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As promised, ABC aired its documentary about Foxconn factories producing Apple products. In an unprecedented move, Apple decided to grant the network’s “Nightline” program full access to its Chinese supply chain, so correspondent Bill Weir traveled to Shenzhen, China to look at “iFactories,” as ABC dubbed them.
Full disclosure: Disney Corporation owns the ABC News network. The fact that the Steve Jobs Trust is Disney’s largest individual shareholder, coupled with Disney CEO Bob Iger now having a seat on Apple’s board of directors, certainly helped win the official approval from Apple. It also raises questions on a possible conflict of interest with this report.
The full “iFactory: Inside Apple” report is scheduled to air on a special edition of “Nightline” due tomorrow, Feb. 21, at 11:35pm ET/PT. A preview will air on “Good Morning America” and “World News with Diane Sawyer.” A long article that accompanies a video teaser, included above for your convenience, offers a grim description of working conditions inside Foxconn plants:
“Okay.” “Okay.” “Okay.”
The voices are robot feminine and they never shut up, each chirp a surreal announcement that another new iPad is about to be born.
“Okay.” “Okay.” “Okay.”
The factory floor is spotless under the bright fluorescent lights and with hypnotic rhythm, thousands of hands reach into a conveyor belt river, bringing each gliding gadget to life one tiny piece at a time.
A supervisor will bark the occasional order in Mandarin, but on this line the machines do most of the talking while the people work in silence.
Their faces are blank as they insert a chip or wipe a screen or plug in a diagnostic cable to hear that everything is “Okay.”
And they will repeat that motion and hear that fembot voice a few thousand more times before lunch.
It is just an average day at Foxconn.
Interestingly, FLA CEO Auret van Heerden initially suggested Foxconn’s iPad manufacturing facilities are not sweatshops. Bloomberg, however, dismissed the report, and said van Heerden’s comments actually “reflected his previous interactions with Foxconn.” The CEO apparently told Bloomberg on the phone that FLA is “finding tons of issues” with Apple’s supply and manufacturing chain. Apple is the first technology company admitted to the FLA. Some pundits pointed out that Apple agreed to FLA inspections following a public relations nightmare after the longstanding Foxconn issues became big media’s mainstream topic. About 30 FLA staff members have three weeks to interview roughly 35,000 workers at two Foxconn plants in China, who answer questions anonymously by entering their responses with iPads.
- Apple grants ABC access to its Chinese supply chain, report to air February 21st (9to5mac.com)
- Bloomberg: FLA is finding ‘tons of issues’ at Apple supplier plants (9to5mac.com)
- FLA president: iPad plants are no sweatshops, boredom and monotony contributing to suicides (9to5mac.com)
- Another publication investigates Foxconn: CNN interviews an iPad assembler, Apple responds (9to5mac.com)