Apple chief says factory labor under scrutiny
SAN FRANCISCO – Apple chief executive Tim Cook said here Tuesday that ensuring safe working conditions at plants making its coveted gadgets is a priority, as an audit of a key supplier continued in China.
“Apple takes working conditions very seriously and we have for a very long time,” Cook said during an on-stage interview at a Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.
“We know people have a high expectation of Apple; we have an even higher expectation of ourselves.”
Cook’s comments came a day after a labor watchdog group began sanctioned checks of working conditions at a massive Foxconn plant in southern China that makes products for the California-based gadget-maker.
Apple agreed last month to allow inspections by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) following reports that employees were overworked and underpaid at Foxconn factories in China.
The Taiwan-owned Foxconn is the largest manufacturer of Apple products.
FLA teams will also inspect factories owned by two other Taiwan-owned manufacturers, Quanta and Pegatron, which also make Apple products.
Apple said the FLA’s findings and recommendations will be posted on its website, fairlabor.org, in early March.
“In terms of problems we are looking to fix, no one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple,” Cook said.
“We are constantly auditing facilities looking for problems, finding problems and fixing problems, and we report everything because we think transparency is incredibly important.”
Apple has taken to micro-managing schedules at plants to safeguard against employees working more than 60 hours weekly and considers intentionally hiring underage labor a “firing offense,” he added.
Apple reported blockbuster quarterly earnings last month with net profit more than doubling to a record $13.06 billion and revenue soaring to an all-time high of $46.33 billion.
Shares of Apple have been rising steadily on the release of a string of hit products starting with the iPod in 2001, followed by the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010.