‘Nightline’ Given Exclusive Access to Apple’s Foxconn Factories

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ABC’s “Nightline” has been given “exclusive access” to the controversial Foxconn factories used to manufacture Apple’s products. On Friday, however, the FLA inspectors at the factories said that they have found “tons of issues”.

ABC’s “Nightline” has been given exclusive access to the controversial Foxconn factories used to manufacture Apple’s products, and its report will air next Tuesday.

But a moderately positive tone to the promotion could be at odds with what appears to be a significant shift in attitude by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), which told Bloomberg Friday that “tons of issues” had been found with the facilities.

Apple granted anchor Bill Weir “exclusive access” to the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen, China, according to a promotional note sent by Nightline on Friday. (The note claims that the broadcast will air “Tuesday, February 22 at 11:35 p.m. ET”. Nightline tweeted that the segment will air Tuesday, however.)

“For years, Apple and Foxconn have been synonymous with monster profits and total secrecy so it was fascinating to wander the iphone and iPod production lines, meet the people who build them and see how they live,” Weir said in a statement. “Our cameras were rolling when thousands of hopeful applicants rushed the Foxconn gates and I spoke with dozens of line workers and a top executive about everything from hours and pay to the controversies over suicides at the plant and the infamous ‘jumper nets’ that line the factories in Shenzhen. After this trip, I’ll never see an Apple product the same way again.”

The iPhone maker has encountered growing criticism of its partners’ labor practices in the past several weeks. A recent New York Times exposé detailed gang-like working conditions and questionable safety practices at Foxconn’s factories.

In the wake of such reports, concerned Apple users launched petitions on the websites SumofUs.org and Change.org, calling for Apple to improve worker protections, increase transparency around the monitoring of its suppliers and make an “ethical” iPhone 5. Protestors recently converged on various Apple Stores, including the new one in Grand Central Terminal, to deliver the petitions, which garnered about 250,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, Apple chief executive Tim Cook recently assured the public, and investors, that the company’s leaders “care about every worker.”

Early investigations are clean… too clean?

Apple recently asked the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to investigate the facilities of its top eight manufacturing partners in China, starting with Foxconn, the main assembler of the company’s popular consumer devices and the target of heavy criticism from labor rights groups.

When the FLA was admitted inside, the group found that the factories where Apple’s iPhones and iPads are assembled to be “first-class” with working conditions that “are way, way above average of the norm” relative to other manufacturing facilities in mainland China, according to FLA chief executive Auret van Heerden. That report almost instantly provoked a backlash among labor groups and even senior officials at the FLA.

But in a dramatic change of course, FLA officials said Friday that they had found “tons of issues” with the plants, according to Bloomberg.

“We’re finding tons of issues,” van Heerden told Bloomberg en route to a meeting where FLA inspectors were scheduled to present preliminary findings to Foxconn management. “I believe we’re going to see some very significant announcements in the near future.”

Portions of the Nightline report will be featured across ABC News broadcasts and platforms, including “Good Morning America,” “World News with Diane Sawyer,” ABCNews.com, ABC News Radio and ABC Newsone.

Additional reporting by Damon Poeter.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Feb. 17 at 4:10 PM with additional details from Bloomberg.

By Mark Hachman, PCMag


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