WASHINGTON - Apple has joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) as a participating company, effective immediately, which comes on the heels of news reports from China of deaths of employees where its products are being manufactured.
Membership in FLA allows outside monitors into factories of suppliers such as Foxconn Technology Group following the reported deaths of at least 15 employees at its Chinese parts makers.
According to a report on Bloomberg.com at least 12 workers have committed suicide at plants in China owned by Taiwan's Foxconn, Apple's biggest supplier, while three died last year and more than 70 were hurt in blasts at two iPad facilities, one of which was also owned by Foxconn. In response to pressure from Apple and the media, Foxconn more than doubled wages in 2010 for some workers in China and employed counselors, the website reported.
The FLA will independently assess facilities in Apple's supply chain and report detailed findings on the FLA website. Apple becomes the first technology company to join the Association as a participating company.
FLA Participating Companies agree to uphold the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct throughout their supply chains and commit to the FLA's Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible Sourcing. In 2011, the FLA worked with Apple to assess the impact of Apple's training programs which help raise awareness of labor rights and standards among workers in its supply chain. Like all new affiliates, Apple will align its compliance program with FLA obligations within the next two years.
"We found that Apple takes supplier responsibility seriously and we look forward to their participation in the Fair Labor Association," said Auret van Heerden, FLA's president/CEO. "We welcome Apple's commitment to greater transparency and independent oversight, and we hope its participation will set a new standard for the electronics industry."
In addition to conducting independent assessments of participating companies' supplier facilities, FLA works with civil society organizations, universities and companies to develop and improve social responsibility programs and provide training and capacity building at the facility and brand level.
"We're extremely proud to be the first technology company admitted to the FLA," said Jeff Williams, Apple's senior vice president of Operations. "Last year we performed more than 200 audits at our supplier's facilities around the world. With the benefit of the FLA's experience and expertise, we will continue to drive improvements for workers and provide even greater transparency into our supply chain."
In other Apple news from the Far East, according to various media reports Apple had a bad introduction of its iPhone 4S in China and suspended sales as consumers pelted the Beijing store with raw eggs since it failed to open. All five stores in the country were reportedly closed, according to Apple.