GADGET DESIGNER Apple "takes working conditions very seriously", the firm's CEO Tim Cook said at a conference yesterday.
Cook was speaking at a Goldman Sachs technology conference, according to Mac Rumours. He said the company is committed to making sure working conditions are up to standard, and that Apple's top priority will be to eliminate underage workers. He added, "If we find a supplier that intentionally hires underage labor, it's a firing offence."
Cook said, "Apple takes working conditions very seriously, and we have for a very long time. Whether workers are in Europe or Asia or the United States, we care about every worker."
He added, "I've spent a lot of time in factories, personally. Not just as an executive. I worked at a paper mill in Alabama and an aluminium plant in Virginia. Many of our top executives visit factories on a regular basis. We have hundreds of employees based there full time.
"We are very connected to the process and we understand working conditions at a very granular level. I realise that the supply chain is complex and I'm sure that you realise this.
"The issues around it are complex. Our commitment is simple: every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment, free of discrimination, where they can earn competitive wages and they can voice their concerns freely. Apple's suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple.
"No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple. We believe transparency is so very important in this area."
Yesterday, Apple asked the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct audits at Foxconn's factories in China. In a statement, Apple said that factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu will be audited at its request. Audits have already begun.
Foxconn and Apple have been criticised over bad working conditions at the factories, and have faced a number of suicide scandals. Foxconn employs over one million people, and Apple said that the FLA will look to interview thousands of them. Foxconn has promised to work with the auditors and help them in their studies.
Foxconn always insists that it does look after its workers, and in a statement sent to The INQUIRER this week it said that it offers them regular breaks and ensures that they man their stations with smiling faces. µ
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