International suppliers are the reason products like the iPhone, iPad and other gadgets exist in the first place. But, up until recently, companies like Foxconn were all but completely unknown to individuals outside of their specific regions.
That began to change in the last few years, though, beginning with a series of suicides that focused quite a bit of attention on Apple’s China-based contract manufacturer, Foxconn. After that, several different reports would ultimately surface digging into the details of companies like Foxconn, and Foxconn itself, revealing less-than-optimal working conditions, living quarters, and more. In an attempt to change that, though, and show how things are changing, Foxconn allowed Dawn Chmielewski of Re/code access beyond the gates of a Foxconn factory located in Shenzhen, where iPads and Macs are put together.
Chmielewski notes that while they were indeed provided access to the factory, their access was not unfettered. A special assistant that works with the company’s CEO, Terry Gou, was sent to the factory to chaperone the publication around the factory, in an attempt to show only what wold paint the company in a slightly better light. For example, the tour did not include a look on the factory floor, where the devices are put together, and Foxconn’s reasoning for this was a customer did not want any eyes on the products being constructed.
The areas that the publication was able to see focused on amenities for the employees, mainly, including an outdoor pool (of which there are five), an outdoor track with bleachers, and an entire area filled with shops, an internet cafe, movie theater and more. There are cafes, restaurants and even banks available in this “tree-lined” outdoor area.
One key area that was viewed was the dormitory area, and the publication was even able to go into one of the rooms (without the express permission of those who live within the room). The publication was shown a room with metal bunk beds, thin mattresses and an overall cramped space for the four individuals that lived within. However, the publication did note that there was no obvious stench of rot, nor did it look rundown in any way.
This is a relatively small step to change public perception of a company as big, and troubled by media reports and actual instances, as Foxconn is, and without truly unfettered access into its plants its hard to gauge just how much was staged and what wasn’t. However, at least it’s a small step in the right direction.
The full report is available through the link below.[via Re/code]