APG, the €329bn Dutch pension investment giant says corporate engagement with electronics giants Apple and Samsung is working with both companies taking major steps to improve working conditions in developing countries following the investor pressure.
The two electronics rivals have been under the spotlight for links with major supplier, Foxconn, following a spate of suicides in recent years at factories in China.
In its latest responsible investment report, APG welcomed moves by both companies to try to rectify the situation following discussions.
In 2012, APG says it corresponded with Apple about the need for good labor conditions and good supervision by the company itself of the entire production chain. “We asked Apple to create a broader base of manufacturers and other suppliers so as to make it easier to switch should abuses come to light at one of them.
“We also asked Apple to do even more to reduce long working hours including overtime for factory workers.”
In response, it says Apple engaged the Fair Labor Association to investigate the working conditions in factories that supply the iPhone and other gadgets.
“While there is still some way to go, we see signs that the improvements that have been made are indeed leading to better working conditions on the factory floor,” APG says, noting that it will “continue to closely monitor developments” and remain in dialogue with Apple.As for Samsung, APG said it had “extensive dialogue” with the South Korean company over safe and healthy working conditions and child labor issues.
APG says a recurring topic was concerns about the inadequate attention Samsung had paid to former workers with leukaemia and the families of dead workers on a since-closed production line: “We are therefore pleased that Samsung entered into dialogue with the families of the victims during 2012,” APG says. The investor also discussed working conditions in the production chain with Samsung. Afterwards Samsung issued a press statement setting out its position with regard to child labor and also published an action plan for preventing child labor.
Another engagement APG reports on in its new responsible investment report is with Canadian mining concern Goldcorp, in particular over reported human and labour rights issues at its Marlin facility in Guatemala. APG has asked Goldcorp for a report on their assessment of the human rights situation at the mine and says the company “has promised to develop a policy for acquisitions and appropriations of land”. Goldcorp will report on its implementation of the recommendations of the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA).