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Trade unions take issue with "iPod City" report

Evan Blass

So even though Apple's investigation of the Chinese manufacturing plant that's come to be known as "iPod City" found no egregious violations in the working conditions (except for, you know, the long hours, military-like punishments, and not exactly "Cribs"-style living arrangements), at least one major trade union conglomerate isn't all that happy with its conclusions. Speaking to BBC News, the director of human and trade union rights at the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Janek Kuczkiewicz, noted that his organization was "not impressed either by the report or by the findings of Apple." Most troubling to the ICFTU was the fact that only 100 of the over 30,000 employees working at the Foxconn-owned plant were interviewed by Apple's special investigative team; and since the conditions under which the interviews were held is unknown (i.e. were they being watched by supervisors and told to just smile and nod?), Kuczkiewicz stressed that "we have serious reservations about the report." He went on to point out that there are other labor standards such as the freedoms from discrimination, of association, and to bargain collectively that were not necessarily enjoyed by the Foxconn employees. While it's certainly admirable that not everyone is simply lauding Apple for its inquiry and assuming massive changes are underway, it's also important to realize that when doing business in a foreign country, outside corporations don't always have the final say on how things are run; so as much as Mr. Kuczkiewicz would like to see the workers band together and demand $5.15 an hour, we're not sure how well that would go over with the Chinese government. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that manufacturers are driving each other to find cheaper and cheaper labor in order to maintain already thin margins, and when that's the case, even a company as rich and powerful as Apple can do little to create the utopic working conditions that we'd all like to see.

[Via The Inquirer and PC Pro]

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