Is Apple the new Nike?

Apple has recently come under scrutiny about sweatshop conditions in the Chinese factories that manufacture its iconic iPod. The accusations of low pay, long hours and poor working conditions are reminiscent of those aimed at the apparel and toy industries since the early 1990s. Is Apple about to become the new Nike?

by CSR-Asia Weekly

The revelations, first made this month in the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday, add little that we didn't already know about sweatshop conditions. But while it took five years for Nike to take allegations of poor working conditions in its factories seriously, the iPod story has spread like a prairie fire. In less than five days, thousands of stories and comments had been posted on the web.

'Sweatshop scrutiny' in the electronics sector has been a long time coming. Many NGOs have been lobbying against poor working conditions in assembly plants and several industry leaders – Dell, HP, IBM – have spearheaded better practice by developing the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct.

In response to the allegations, Apple announced that it would audit its factories in China, particularly those operated by Foxconn, the company at the centre of the recent media reports. This will not be enough to quiet criticism, but it sets the ball rolling in the right direction.

If one lesson is to be learnt from these allegations, it's that companies operating in China, whatever their sector, should not be complacent about CSR issues.

Source: Is Apple the new Nike?
Stephen Frost
CSR Asia Weekly Vol 2 Week 25

Review by Emilie Filou

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