IMF challenges FLA investigations at Foxconn


In an open letter to Apple shareholders, the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), GoodElectronics and makeITfair declare the investigations of the Fair Labour Association (FLA) at Apple supplier Foxconn to be a PR stunt.

GLOBAL/CHINA: On February 23, the occasion of Apple's 2012 annual shareholders' meeting, the IMF, GoodElectronics and makeITfair call on Apple shareholders to do the right thing in an open letter. Apple has recently joined the Fair Labour Association (FLA), but recent developments point to this being no more than a PR stunt.

FLA is currently conducting an investigation of labour conditions at Apple supplier Foxconn in China. Although the FLA report is only due in March, it has already been reported that the FLA has formed a positive opinion of conditions at Foxconn, without yet interviewing workers. This casts doubts on the independence of the investigation (FLA is directly funded by Apple) and the credibility of its final report. Contrary to FLA's standard methodology, the Foxconn investigation was not unannounced which has allowed the company to hide abuses by banning illegal overtime for 16-17 year olds during the period of the investigation.

Apple's initiative in joining FLA was appreciated, however, misusing the  initiative as a PR stunt will reflect very badly on Apple's sustainability initiatives and statements. The open letter tells shareholders that in addition to proper auditing, Apple also needs to look into improving its purchasing practices by ensuring fair prices and well-planned lead times, allowing workers to work normal hours and earn a living wage.

The IMF, GoodElectronics and makeITfair are among a growing group of concerned trade unions and other civil society organisations calling upon Apple to improve its act and stamp out persistent violations of labour rights in its supply chain.