The sorry case of the Apple / Foxconn / iPod fiasco seems to be coming to an end. Several bloogers have written up good analysis of the latest news (see Imagethief and China Law Blog), but the basics are as follows:
• After the initial reports on working conditions at Apple’s contractor, investigations by Apple found minor problems relating to overtime rules, and set about fixing them.
• Two reporters at China Business News, who wrote critically about conditions in the plant, were aggressively sued for defamation by the Taiwan-based Foxconn.
• Now that both sides have apparently apologized, Foxconn has dropped the suit – but has scored a major own goal with its aggressive behaviour, and has also had to agree to set up a union (a la Wal-Mart).
Anyone (especially a foreign company) serious about doing business in China should be sensitive to local issues, and should think twice before 1) ignoring public relations as an important issue (especially under current policy conditions), and 2) using blunt legal tools which could do more damage to the user than the target.
See news sources:
Apple supplier drops suit over China article
International Herald Tribune – France
Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwan-based owner of the manufacturer Hongfujin Precision Industry, and the Chinese newspaper China Business News issued a joint …
iPod maker must allow union, China says
Seattle Times – United States
SHANGHAI, China — The Chinese government has ordered a Chinese supplier of Apple’s iPod to let its more than 200,000 workers set up a trade union, reports …