26 Dec 2012

Apple Gets Focused on Labor

The attention brought to bear on the labor practices of Apple's manufacturers and suppliers in China may be starting to create real, positive change in the electronics industry,says an article published this evening in The New York Times.The Times, along with other media outlets, published several high-profile reports this year on the practices of Apple suppliers  including contract manufacturer Foxconn, which produces Apple's iPhone and iPad, as well as products for other companies.The reports also included looks at Apple's lack of manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and its tax strategies.

Such media attention  and the entry of the issue into mainstream consciousness,by way of skits on Saturday Night Live and questions during the presidential debates  has the Times reports, compelled executives in the electronics industry to realize they need to turn things around.
The days of easy globalization are done,the paper quotes an unidentified Apple executive as saying.We know that we have to get into the muck now.Some of the positive steps the Times mentions are decreased hours and increased wages at Foxconn,a tripling of Apple's corporate social responsibility staff;increased transparency from Apple on practices and progress,and a new willingness on the part of Apple to reach out to worker-advocacy groups.

 Apple has also,the Times reports,stopped treating these labor issues like engineering puzzles,and has adopted a messier, more human approach one with an increased focus on listening to workers and labor groups as opposed to simply establishing more policies.The negative attention on industry giants Apple and Foxconn, as well as the positive changes it has begun to foster, are affecting the industry at large, the Times reports,with companies like HP and Intel, as well as Foxconn's competitors, getting swept up in the jetstream.Intel's director of corporate responsibility,Gary Niekerk,tells the news outlet,This is on the front burner for everyone now.No one inside Intel wants to end up in a factory that treats people badly,that ends up on the front page.

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