Both Apple and one of its biggest suppliers, Foxconn, have come under attack lately due to accusations of poor working conditions and worker suicides at Foxconn plants. Apple recently announced that it would conduct special audits of those plants, working with the Fair Labor Association. At the moment, the head of the FLA has said that the organization has already found "tons of issues" at one Foxconn plant.
Both Apple and Foxconn are apparently feeling the bad PR heat up and that's likely why they invited ABC News to become the first ever news outlet to film inside an Apple-based Foxconn factory. ABC News has already posted up a preview of that video on its web site along with a report about what they found at the Shenzhen and Chengdu Foxconn plants in China. The full show will be broadcast on ABC News Nightline on Tuesday.
The report states up front that the President of ABC's parent company Disney, Bob Iger, sits on Apple's board of directors. Furthermore, the family of Apple's late founder Steve Jobs owns the most shares of Disney. ABC is clearly trying put an editorial barrier between its coverage of this story and the company's links to Apple.
Neverthless, the report does paint a picture of workers in plants such as Foxconn City who suffer from boredom, low pay and long stretches on the assembly line. It also talks about how as many as 3,000 people are sometimes outside the gates of the factory waiting to get a chance at a job at Foxconn City.
Foxconn admits that it would likely not be showing its factory to journalists if the reports of worker suicides and poor working conditions had not shown up in the press. Louis Woo, an adviser to Foxconn's CEO, states:
Of course you can argue that we should have opened up five years ago. Well five years ago, we are under the radar screen, nobody really knows us, we are doing well. Why should I open it up?