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Apple CEO Tim Cook's "How Dare You" face  (Source: timeinc.net)
Cook said he is outraged by the claims and that Apple cares about every one of its workers

Earlier this week, The New York Times published its second installment of its iEconomy series, which focused on the treatment of workers at Apple's suppliers over in China. After the report described the harsh environment that these employees must endure in great detail, Apple CEO Tim Cook jumped to defend his company, saying he was "outraged" by the claims.

The report dug deep into Apple's recent history with suppliers and the treatment of individuals working for these suppliers. While Apple's supplier code of conduct requires that "working conditions in Apple's supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible," it doesn't seem that any of these requirements are being strictly enforced.
 
In fact, The New York Times discovered it was quite the opposite. Apple was accused of sweeping the mistreatment of suppliers' workers under the rug in order to continue fast, cheap production of its latest gadgets at low production costs.

In response, Cook sent the following email to Apple employees:

Team,

As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.

For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers’ manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am. For the people who aren’t as close to the supply chain, you have a right to know the facts.

Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people.

At the same time, no one has been more up front about the challenges we face. We are attacking problems aggressively with the help of the world’s foremost authorities on safety, the environment, and fair labor. It would be easy to look for problems in fewer places and report prettier results, but those would not be the actions of a leader.

Earlier this month we opened our supply chain for independent evaluations by the Fair Labor Association. Apple was in a unique position to lead the industry by taking this step, and we did it without hesitation. This will lead to more frequent and more transparent reporting on our supply chain, which we welcome. These are the kinds of actions our customers expect from Apple, and we will take more of them in the future.

We are focused on educating workers about their rights, so they are empowered to speak up when they see unsafe conditions or unfair treatment. As you know, more than a million people have been trained by our program.

We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues. What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word. You can follow our progress at apple.com/supplierresponsibility.

To those within Apple who are tackling these issues every day, you have our thanks and admiration. Your work is significant and it is changing people’s lives. We are all proud to work alongside you.

Tim

The New York Times report seems to have hit close to home with Cook. The report described the daily lives of Apple's suppliers' employees, such as those at Apple's top electronics supplier Foxconn. Employees here complained of long working hours and overtime, where many worked 12-hour days at six or more days per week. Some employees’ legs would swell from standing so long as shifts ran 24 hours per day. According to Apple's code of conduct, employees are not to work over 60 hours per week.

Even after the shift ends, 70,000 of Foxconn's employees are crammed into tiny dorms. As many as 20 employees are stuffed into a three-bedroom apartment.

Long, tiring days are not the end of the worker's troubles. The factories' conditions inside have posed life-threatening risks to employees. For instance, the collection of aluminum dust inside Foxconn's factories in Chengdu and Shanghai resulted in two separate explosions. The first occurred in May 2011 in Foxconn's Chengdu factory, and the second occurred in the Shanghai factory in December 2011.

Foxconn also experienced other worker-related issues, such as riots and suicides when employees began disputing the long hours and little pay.

One current Apple executive, who remains anonymous, said customers are more concerned with the timely release of the latest iPhone than the working conditions of factory workers in China.

Source: 9 to 5 Mac



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Tim Cook
By zlandar on 1/27/2012 1:43:04 PM , Rating: 1
"We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues. What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word."

So Tim is saying Apple stares the problem straight in the eye and doesn't blink. They might shuffle their feet a little bit though.

Before everyone goes into a sob story about the plight of these workers you really don't understand unless you have lived outside the US and in a 2nd/3rd world country. What may seem abhorrent in the States may seem pretty nice if the choice is to work in a factory for long hours or starve in a rice field.

Granted I would not want to do that kind of work either. But apparently enough people in China think it's better than the alternative. It's up to the consumer to decide whether the plight of non-American workers is enough to alter their buying habits.




RE: Tim Cook
By bigdawg1988 on 1/27/2012 1:58:23 PM , Rating: 4
Funny, that the real cost is hidden... the environmental cost. China is going to be one giant chemical waste dump in 20 years. That is probably a bigger reason those companies move there. I wouldn't want to live in a place like that. Consumers really have no choice. All the other guys get their products in China too, but Apple seems to be the one picked on by the press.... Unless there is another big "Made in America" campaign, you can forget consumer pressure.

I say the heck with it, let the PC companies outsource labor. We can just slap some tariffs on the imports to help pay for our military spending and healthcare. The PC companies get cheap labor, China keeps their manufacturing, and we get more money in our coffers. Not all the manufacturing jobs will end up overseas. Automakers seem happy to build auto plants here, even with (gasp!!)union labor. Once the old generation dies off (and leaves us all that money) we'll be okay again.


RE: Tim Cook
By MrBlastman on 1/27/2012 3:02:42 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Once the old generation dies off (and leaves us all that money) we'll be okay again.


Not to be sensitive (because I'm not) but... have you ever had a parent die off at a young age with a substantial sum of money--one that you at least care for?

I can tell you that it sucks and you'd trade it all right back in to have them back.

What good is a large sum of money to inherit if the world you inherit is a world of sh$t?

I'd rather the end result of policy be to benefit the people (via jobs) than the institution (our government) who thinks they know what is best for us.


RE: Tim Cook
By roadhog1974 on 1/31/2012 3:07:00 AM , Rating: 2
I think he was being a touch sarcastic.


RE: Tim Cook
By geddarkstorm on 1/27/2012 2:26:28 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
But apparently enough people in China think it's better than the alternative.


Who wins when your choices are Horrific or Terrible? I've seen the video and photos from within one of Foxconn's little "city" factories. Should we sit on our laurels enjoying cushy lives while they suffer a fate many deem worst than death? They don't have choices. They can't move away, they can't escape. Don't lie or kid to yourself. And do you really think there's enough rice patties for all the workers of China to work in? And do you think "rice patties" are all they grow?

Sitting in your arm chair proclaiming "It ain't so bad, they chose it" is so ignorant as it is heart breaking. They don't have remotely the choices you think they do, or that any one of us do in a first world country.

And let's look at this pragmetically. The first world is pretty well saturated with consumer "stuff". But China and India and other emerging countries represent massive untapped fields for businesses. But, those workers will need purchasing power to do so, which means they need wages above 30 cents an hour; and lives to actually spend money on!

Bringing up the standards of living of all the world should be a goal we never lose sight of just because we're too fat to do much other than get up for another slice of pizza.


RE: Tim Cook
By Schrag4 on 1/27/2012 4:45:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Bringing up the standards of living of all the world should be a goal we never lose sight of just because we're too fat to do much other than get up for another slice of pizza.


I'm all ears for your plan to improve their situation. Seriously - what would you have us do?


RE: Tim Cook
By Just Tom on 1/28/2012 10:28:30 AM , Rating: 4
Here is the problem: Make the wages and living conditions in those Chinese factories too much better and there will be no factories. The wage differential will shrink dramatically and there will be little incentive for manufacturers to invest in China.

Chinese wages are growing rapidly, the reason for this is there is demand for workers. The workers and companies are becoming more productive and efficient which never would have happened without the investment in manufacturing driven by demand for cheap industrial good. Similar things happened in Japan, Korea, the US, Britain, and Germany as they industrialized. It would be wonderful if that step could be skipped but I doubt it can. The only advantage under-developed countries have is cheap labor. If they cannot utilize that advantage they will never develop modern economies.


RE: Tim Cook
By Natch on 1/27/2012 2:29:28 PM , Rating: 5
And let's not forget, that he made that statement likely while sitting in his $1000+ executive office chair, in his 2000 square foot office, etc, etc.

Guys like that are so out of touch with reality, it's ridiculous. Of course, the reality distortion field might have something to do with it....


RE: Tim Cook
By tayb on 1/27/2012 2:44:49 PM , Rating: 5
Oh come on. He didn't write that statement. He paid someone a handsome sum to write it up for him. ;)


RE: Tim Cook
By Mitch101 on 1/27/2012 2:45:58 PM , Rating: 5
At least in the old days they would give out shirts.
http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macin...

In the early years of the tech boom, Apple employees would come to work in T-shirts that said: “Working 90 hours a week — and lovin’ it.”

Tim Cook should make new ones "Working 90 Hours in a Row and Haven't Jumped"


RE: Tim Cook
By Reclaimer77 on 1/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: Tim Cook
By kleinma on 1/27/2012 2:47:09 PM , Rating: 2
[quote]
Before everyone goes into a sob story about the plight of these workers you really don't understand unless you have lived outside the US and in a 2nd/3rd world country. What may seem abhorrent in the States may seem pretty nice if the choice is to work in a factory for long hours or starve in a rice field.[/quote]

Yeah you are right, I am sure it is nice to work there if you live in that country. That is why the workers commit suicide constantly and strike on a regular basis (only to be met with violence and withheld pay). Nice place to work...


RE: Tim Cook
By Ramtech on 1/27/2012 3:45:49 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone here know how much east Asians work?
For example South Koreans work from 7 AM to 8 PM and they don't get overtimes its included in their wage they do have better work conditions though.

All am saying is that work conditions depend on culture and government


RE: Tim Cook
By Jedi2155 on 1/27/2012 5:54:45 PM , Rating: 2
I can tell you right now, that the Korean team I'm working with is putting in hours past midnight regularly. Doesn't help that I'm finding them a lot of bugs to fix but they've been doing this for months now.


RE: Tim Cook
By tng on 1/27/2012 6:19:47 PM , Rating: 2
The Japanese that I work with are the same way, they work hard and long, but also they do get paid fairly well for it. They also have a much better standard of living than the Chinese.

The Koreans that I have worked with are the same way, they work hard until the job is finished and they have much better pay and standard of living.


RE: Tim Cook
By Jedi2155 on 1/30/2012 1:59:12 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking to them, the typical starting Korean engineer salary is between roughly $40,000/yr which is 50% less than what I usually see here. We still make more, and probably have greater buying power based on cost of living.


Sorry, Tim
By piroroadkill on 1/27/2012 2:09:30 PM , Rating: 4
Even without reading, I know it will be a generic feel-good statement.

You know very well Foxconn has been squeezed while Apple's profits have soared.

This is all an elaborate crock of shit.

Pay the workers more, that's all you need to do. Mandate that the workers get significantly more. Nothing else.




RE: Sorry, Tim
By vapore0n on 1/27/2012 2:28:59 PM , Rating: 4
In my opinion, Apple cant mandate anything on a supplier, other than a product that meets their spec, quality, and quantity.
Only option for Apple is to move to another supplier, and that would be a bullet to their own foot. It would decrease their bottom line. And that is how business work, unfortunately.


RE: Sorry, Tim
By Trisped on 1/27/2012 2:51:56 PM , Rating: 2
In my opinion, if you pay for something to be made, you are also paying for how they make it.
Apple pays for its products to be made with a high level of quality.
If Apple wanted to pay for its products to be made according to its supplier code of conduct, it can.


RE: Sorry, Tim
By captainBOB on 1/27/2012 4:30:35 PM , Rating: 4
Unfortunately your opinion isn't how the world works, Apple is the customer here, and the only way to get the seller [Foxconn] to change their ways is with their massive wallet.

However they both know that such a move would be detrimental to both parties. So its a stalemate. They can and probably have negotiated better working conditions in exchange for something else, maybe a bigger cut of the pie.

Something that seems so simple to fix usually ends up being overcomplicated by many things.


RE: Sorry, Tim
By tastyratz on 1/27/2012 3:27:24 PM , Rating: 2
this is more than paying the employees more. A higher base wage does not equal a less hostile work environment. Apple can demand a product as well as set criteria on the way it is created. They can also levy fines and do pretty much as they please. The supplier has just as much right to tell them to kiss off and not meet the contractual agreement as apple has to do the same. Do you think if apple demanded they meet certain criteria they would just say no? of course not... but that money has to come from somewhere. Either Apple has to pay more to suppliers or suppliers have to demand more money. These conditions exist only because it is in the best interest of money. It could all be fixed tomorrow but then ruthless Apple would have a lower profit margin.


RE: Sorry, Tim
By tng on 1/27/2012 6:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
Apple could pay more for the product that Foxconn makes for them and help the plight of workers that make their products, but obviously that would cut into a huge profit margin...

They could move the assembly of units to somewhere here in the US, not sure what products would cost then, but it would be expensive. Some of it could be automated surely to offset the cost of higher labor.

I am an idealist yes, but it pains me to buy something from China knowing that is what goes on. I have spent twice as much for things made in Germany, Japan, US over things made in China.


It used to that way here in 1900.
By LongTimePCUser on 1/28/2012 12:57:36 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, the factory work conditions in China resemble those in the United States around 1900. That was before the Triangle Fire catastrophe, child labor laws and unions that fought for worker rights. Of course, in China now, the government is supporting the factory owners and outlawing unions. That is the was it was here in 1900.

This sort of factory work conditions was considered unacceptable here. It took a long time, but laws were passed and workers organized to get a better share of the profits.

A few years ago, companies like Nike were pressured to stop slave labor practices overseas if they were to continue to sell their products in the United States.

Lets see if Apple is as ethical as Nike was under pressure. The other option is that they will continue exactly the same as today if Apple product consumers simply don't care about anyone except themselves.




By wordsworm on 1/28/2012 8:08:43 AM , Rating: 2
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-0...

I believe that's Foxconn's answer to employee problems. How many, I wonder, employees does it take to make sure 1,000,000 robots function properly?


By jbwhite99 on 1/30/2012 9:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if they translated the Jungle into Mandarin?


Coming soon!
By gevorg on 1/27/2012 2:08:04 PM , Rating: 4
Coming soon to the iPhone factories near you, the iSlave! With more free biscuits before the extra 12-hour night shifts.

quote:
One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves... A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.




By Strunf on 1/30/2012 12:23:52 PM , Rating: 2
For those interested on the topic, I heard this radio program the other day (radio adaptation from a one man show), even if it's voice only and roughly 40min long it was pretty interesting!

www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/4 54/mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory




By Strunf on 1/30/2012 12:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
There's no space between the 4 and the 5 on the link...

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/epi...


And?
By bug77 on 1/27/2012 1:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
People knew these issues exist and they still bought Apple products. If people don't care, why would Apple (or any other company)?
Yes, it's people being treated badly and we're always "outraged" to find out something like this. But we forget very quickly, only to be "outraged" again when the story is republished.




Paid Annual Leave?
By drycrust3 on 1/27/2012 2:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain.

Right now, there is a one week national holiday in China, so how many employees of those contractors have received a one week paid holiday?




Patently false?
By shabby on 1/27/2012 6:29:45 PM , Rating: 2
Apple patented what now?




yeah right!
By shin0bi272 on 1/27/2012 11:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
40,000 us employees, 400,000 chinese employees. The chinese employees get 130 bucks a month... for 240 hours of work. Thats 51cents an hour! yet apple is tooting its own horn about how much money it's made and how its the richest company in the world now surpassing Exxon on wednesday. So I put this forth for all you internet nerds to ponder....

FUCK APPLE COMPUTER!




Cough, cough...
By bupkus on 1/28/2012 2:10:30 PM , Rating: 2
Is it getting smokey in here?




and what can apple do?
By hexxthalion on 1/30/2012 3:50:10 AM , Rating: 2
it's foxconn's factory and foxconn's employees - what really can apple do here? all they can do is to meet with other companies for who foxconn build stuff and come up with standards they all agree to. not just apple as apple isn't the only one foxconn makes stuff for.




Talkin Smack
By Beenthere on 1/30/2012 10:08:57 AM , Rating: 2
It's easy to talk crap about how much they care but the reality is they could manufacture in the U.S. and reap 80+% of the profits they currently enjoy, eliminate all inhumane employee treatment and support the U.S. economy with U.S. jobs. All of these execs want the wonderful benefits of living in the U.S. but they don't want to contribute to the economic growth and stability of the U.S. economy if they can off shore jobs for greater personal financial gain.




Make it in the U.S.?
By INeedCache on 1/30/2012 11:20:46 AM , Rating: 2
Making it in the United States would cost them a fortune. There is a reason companies go overseas for production, people. If your competitors are having them made there, you'd better be too, or you won't be able to compete. That's just the way it is. Like it or not.




Imperialism at its finest.
By anandtech02148 on 1/30/2012 7:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
Typical behaviour of what these sellouts and american followers would do to their own country brethen. Taiwanese,Japanese,Korea are loser so called "asian" that bottom feed from american scums for the last 40yrs so they can unleashed hellish working condition all over asia to satisfy their Western masters after that these western mongrels/followers point to comments like "human rights". WTO is a joke, just like every other world organizations that has America in it. Their day of reckoning will come.




Hate the game, not the players.
By lawrance on 1/29/2012 12:36:22 PM , Rating: 1
So is Apple the bad guy here, or is it Foxconn? To think Apple is alone in this issue is wrong. Any hot product made in China is dealing with the same thing. And I doubt the amount of suicides from Foxconn employees is no more than the worldwide average. They just employ a greater number and we hear about it due to "Apple" being in the headline. It's all about the clicks people. And the word 'Apple' produces clicks. Just ask DailyTech.




Thats the reason they work there vs USA
By KOOLTIME on 1/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: Thats the reason they work there vs USA
By euler007 on 1/27/2012 3:10:31 PM , Rating: 5
"Just imagine how much your iPhone would cost if they had to build it here in the USA "

Your answer is 65$.


By A11 on 1/27/2012 3:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
You sir win the comment of the day price.


RE: Thats the reason they work there vs USA
By Reclaimer77 on 1/27/12, Rating: 0
By A11 on 1/30/2012 9:22:36 AM , Rating: 2
wooooosh


By zlandar on 1/27/2012 3:26:34 PM , Rating: 3
If you read the recent NYT articles it's just not wages. It's having all that labor and nearby associated industry in one place to shorten product development time.

And it's not just "cheap" labor. It's cheap and available labor at different levels of education.


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