Scott Nova is Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium.
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This week was a milestone for Apple. As its stock continues to rise, its market cap exceeded $700 billion—the largest valuation ever achieved by any U.S.
Notwithstanding some areas of actual progress, working conditions in Apple’s supply chain remain grim for many workers. The claims made by Apple in its latest supplier report are often misleadingly rosy, presumably designed to deflect attention from the serious labor rights violations that even its own data suggest remain common—and which independent reports continue to find with dismaying consistency.
The third and final verification assessment by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) of remediation steps at three Foxconn factories making Apple products led to a raft of stories with headlines touting the progress on worker rights at Apple’s largest supplier Foxconn.
On February 13, 2012, Apple announced that it would be relying on inspections by the Fair Labor Association as a path to ending labor rights abuses in its supply chain, leading to front page coverage in the New York Times.
Read in isolation, the second verification assessment by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) of remediation steps at three Foxconn factories making Apple products might lead one to think that essentially all labor rights violations have been addressed.
The Hong Kong based group SACOM released a report today of a new investigation of working conditions at three Apple factories in China.
Apple's latest report on working and environmental conditions in its supply chain confirms that many workers continue to work in deplorable situations and that Apple has not yet spurred many of the fundamental reforms necessary to protect workers’ basic rights.
The New York Times and the reporters of its Dec. 26 story—“Signs of Changes Taking Hold in Electronics Factories in China”—deserve much credit for raising the profile of the abusive conditions faced by the workers making Apple products, helping to spur promises of reform.
In August 2012, the Fair Labor Association released an interim assessment of the progress made by Apple’s largest supplier, Foxconn, in improving conditions for its factory workers in China. This briefing paper concludes that the FLA’s rosy view of developments in Apple’s supply chain is unfounded.