It looks like media pressure has prompted Apple supplier Foxconn to do something unprecedented — open up its factories to ABC’s Nightline. The program will air tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21, at 11:35pm EST.
As Forbes points out, ABC and Apple have Bob Iger in common (Iger is Disney’s CEO – Disney owns ABC — and sits on Apple’s board), so it will be interesting to see how much access Nightline anchor Bill Weir will have to Foxconn’s massive facilities in Shenzhen and Chengdu. The preview shows Weir talking to Apple employees as well as a Foxconn executive.
The segment will also delve into how, despite the suicides and other labor issues, plenty of people still travel from all over China to apply for jobs at the manufacturing giant.
This is the latest in a string of moves meant to counteract the bad publicity brought on by a New York Times piece exposing poor working conditions in a company that makes an estimated 40% of the world’s consumer electronics.
A look at what Apple and Foxconn have done so far:
January 13, 2012: Apple releases a list of its 150-plus suppliers for the first time ever in its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, plus it reveals it conducted 229 internal audits over 2011, a 80% increase over the previous year.
February 13, 2012: Apple and Foxconn announce they will allow a third-party labor rights organization — the Fair Labor Association (FLA) — to inspect Foxconn’s facilities with access to employees, living and working quarters, and internal documents.
February 17, 2012: Foxconn gives junior employees a 16-25% raise to 1,800 yuan (US$285) a month, which can rise to 2,200 yuan (US$349) a month if employees pass a technical exam.
While not everyone is satisfied with the moves Apple has made, one thing is clear — Apple is serious about quelling the uproar over its labor practices, a stain on an otherwise stellar year where the company saw record-breaking profits.