Tag Archive for ‘Apple’
Long criticized for its lack of commitment to sustainability—from supporting the dangerous mining of precious resources and exploiting factory workers to powering its data centers with energy derived from coal and not taking back products for recycling—Apple has really worked on turning things around over the past couple of years.
“We live not just in a global economy but in a global supply chain,” says international labor expert Richard Locke. “The most important thing is to educate consumers, especially in large markets, so they understand that the choices they make have implications for issues of living standards, working conditions and justice in the factories that produce most of the things we buy every day.”
The emerging trend of “cloud computing” means that these providers have had to scale up their power consumption considerably, as they are increasingly responsible for providing more and more of the computing horsepower required by the world’s two billion Internet users.
The Fair Labor Association said a nearly month-long investigation of three factories operated by Apple’s major Chinese supplier “revealed serious and pressing noncompliances” with FLA standards as well as Chinese labor law. The findings called for a detailed set of remedial measures to protect employee health and safety, reduce worker hours to legal limits while protecting worker pay, and establish “genuine avenues” for workers to provide input on company decisions.
Warehouse workers in the Inland Empire — as well as in the next two biggest distribution hubs, the Chicago area and central New Jersey — are cogs in a system that stocks the shelves of stores such as Walmart, Target and Foot Locker. Even so, the big retailers are separated from the workers, and shielded from legal exposure, by layers of intermediary companies.
The Fair Labor Association, founded in 1999, is a group of companies, civil society organizations and colleges and universities. It monitors factories in the supply chains of affiliated companies to assess compliance with FLA standards and requirements.
Apple Inc.’s announcement Feb. 13 that it has asked the Fair Labor Association to conduct “special voluntary audits” of working conditions at the plants of Chinese suppliers follows a growing wave of unaccustomed adverse publicity toward the consumer electronics giant.
Apple Inc., facing criticism over working conditions at Chinese plants of its major assembly suppliers, particularly Foxconn, said the Fair Labor Association will conduct “special voluntary audits” at Apple’s request. “The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Recent media reports have put the spotlight on abusive working conditions at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company whose massive Chinese factories manufacture some of the world’s most popular consumer electronics. As well as working with companies like Dell, Motorola, Nokia and Hewlett-Packard, Foxconn assembles popular Apple products like the iPhone and iPad.
While daily news headlines can sometimes make it easy to assume that big business is incapable of doing good in the world, contributor Christine Bader argues that there exists a “global army” of Corporate Idealists hard at work on a host of environmental and social issues. She offers the beginnings of a Manifesto to help support that army – “an outline of the principles and actions that will help us better align the interests of business and society.”