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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.


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