Rob Schmitz, the man who exposed Mike Daisey's lies about Apple contractor Foxconn's factories, has had a tour of the assembly plant himself. While his findings are mostly positive -- he compared it to a college campus -- he has aired some of the workers' gripes.
Schmitz is only the second journalist after ABC's Bill Weir to tour the factory, Fortune reports. His findings can be heard on US radio tonight, or we've got a quick summary after the jump if you don't want to wait.
Schmitz is largely positive, describing Foxconn's factory city as feeling like a college campus, complete with "dorm buildings and basketball courts and swimming pools and things like that". He also contradicts claims from the New York Times that workers spend hours standing or perched uncomfortably on stools. The workers he saw sat on stools that have backs.
But it's not all rosy. The workers complained to Schmitz the pay rise they were promised in March hasn't come into effect yet, but Foxconn's CEO said on Friday that it'll happen in July. So what else annoys the workers? Well the process of assembling an iPad by hand is repetitive and mind-numbing, supervisors show blatant favouritism, workers have been forced to turn up when they're sick and sometimes they haven't been able to bill for overtime.
The FLA has investigated Foxconn's conditions and highlighted some issues including long working hours, unfair overtime payment structures, and lacklustre safety measures. Here's hoping they're sorted out soon.
The company recently went on a recruitment drive, hiring 20,000 extra employees (in preparation for the iPhone 5, maybe?) bringing the total workforce up to 1.2 million. Foxconn also makes gadgets for a host of other companies, so we'll have to wait and see what the repercussions are. I for one would be happy to pay a little more for gadgets in the knowledge that those putting them together had better working conditions.
What do you think of Foxconn? Will these changes actually happen, or is it just a PR exercise? Let me know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.