Apple Needs to ‘Step Up’ On Labor Issues in Asia: Analyst

Apple's logo on a wall of an Apple store
Cancan Chu | Getty Images
Apple's logo on a wall of an Apple store

Concerns over the labor conditions at Foxconn Technology Group, Apple’s largest supplier, caused one analyst at Calvert Investments to say that the company is reviewing its holdings in Apple, although he stopped short of saying it would dump its shares altogether.

Bennett Freeman, senior vice president, sustainability research and policy at the investment firm, told CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street” on Monday that Apple needs to improve upon its labor rights and working conditions if it hopes to sustain their iconic brand.

He also noted that Calvert has been aware of Apple’s problems with suppliers in China for quite a while, and it has repeatedly engaged with the maker of iPads, iPods, and iPhones, insisting the company improve its standards and conditions.

“They’ve made public commitments that we expect to be reiterated and reinforced,” Freeman said. “They are that they will work with Foxconn to raise workers wages and reduce excessive overtime.”

While the commitments that Apple have made publicly are a step in the right direction, Freeman said, the time for the company to take action is now.

“We need to see Apple step up and deliver on the commitments it’s made in recent weeks to really improve these practices,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding,” Freeman said. “If Apple is going to continue to be such a great company, it has got to be a leader, not a laggard.”

Earlier this month, Terry Gou, Foxconn’s chairman, vowed to increase workers salaries and cut their hours after an investigation by the Fair Labor Association found that many workers were not being compensated for working overtime.

Apple shares made a comeback Tuesday, closing above $600 a share after five-straight days of decline, the company’s longest losing streak since October 2011.

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Bennett Freeman is a senior vice president of sustainability and research policy at Calvert Investments. Calvert Investments holds shares in Apple.