SAN FRANCISCO: Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed investors at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference here Tuesday. The Street live blogged and aired the speech, which focused on working conditions at its supplier facilities. At the conference, Cook today promised to provide monthly reports on worker conditions.
It was Cook’s third year addressing investors at this event, held annually here.
“Apple takes working conditions very, very seriously, and we have for a very long time. Whether the workers are in Europe or Asia or the United States, we care about every worker,” opened Cook. ” I’ve spent a lot of time in factories personally, and not just as an executive.
“I realize that supply chain is complex… (but) our commitment is very simple. We believe that every worker has a 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 suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple.”
Apple’s issues regarding manufacturing conditions at its Asian suppliers began in 2006, when the Mail on Sunday alleged sweatshop conditions permeated Foxconn and Inventec, factories that produced the Apple iPod at the time.
The article said 60 hour work weeks were the norm, that workers made about $100 for every four weeks of work and were forced to live and eat (paying for rent and food out of their earnings) on site.
Apple immediately reacted and by 2007 began annual audits of working conditions. Its yearly progress reports are annually published also.
In 2010, however, the spotlight was back on Apple and bad conditions at suppliers. A number of suicides in a Foxconn factory that makes iPads and iPhones led Foxconn to force employees into signing documents promising they would not kill themselves.
In 2011 Apple told the UK Telegraph it had discovered 91 children under 16 working at its various facilities. Cook today called child labor “abhorrent” and said it would be a firing offense.