ABC peeks into Apple factory's working conditions

Nightline is touting an exclusive look inside Foxconn's facilities amid public pressure on Apple to improve the working conditions in its supply chain.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read
A worker at an Apple supplier facility in Chengdu, China.
A worker at an Apple supplier facility in Chengdu, China. Apple

ABC is touting an inside look at the working conditions in Foxconn, a key vendor for Apple and other major technology companies.

The report airs Tuesday night on the network's Nightline news program, with a preview already up on its site.

Apple has faced increasing criticism from advocate groups, which are calling for the construction of a more ethical iPhone and an improvement in the conditions at the suppliers that the company works with. Groups have already delivered hundreds of thousands of petitions to Apple stores around the world.

The criticism was largely sparked by a series of articles from the New York Times, both analyzing why workers in China are mainly doing the work of building Apple products and detailing the conditions in those factories.

Since then, Apple has worked overtime to get public sentiment back on its side. Apple CEO Tim Cook said at a Goldman Sachs conference last week that the company does more in the industry to help the workers at its vendor partners. The company has joined the Fair Labor Association and is seeking a more rigorous audit of its suppliers.

ABC's preview breaks little ground, hitting upon the same themes of overworked employees who complain of long hours, little overtime, and poor living conditions. But it does yield some fascinating insight through interviews with workers. Despite the tough conditions, demand for jobs at the factory remain high. The preview also addresses the spate of suicides that Foxconn had to deal with in 2010, as well as last year's explosion that killed a few workers and left many injured.

The report marks an unprecedented amount of transparency from Foxconn, which has been known to be secretive and aggressive in shutting the media from its facilities. A Foxconn executive admitted to ABC that it would not have considered opening its doors if it were not for the public pressure Apple--a massive customer--was facing in the U.S.

While Apple has taken the brunt of the heat, many technology companies, from Hewlett-Packard to Sony, use the facilities to construct everything from laptops to video-game consoles. Advocate groups argue that Apple should use its leadership role in technology to push for change with its suppliers.

The Nightline report airs at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT.