January 28, 2012

Apple ‘Attacking Problems’ At Chinese Factories, Says Top Exec

In the wake of criticism over working conditions at the Chinese supply factories, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook sent an email to the company's approximately 60,000 employees Friday, stating that the iPad and iPhone manufacturer "cares about every worker in its supply chain" and that they are "attacking problems" in those facilities.

“Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain," Cook wrote, according to the blog 9to5Mac, which obtained a copy of the email. "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.”

“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," he added. "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."

According to Telegraph reporter Malcolm Moore, Cook's email is likely a response to a series of recent New York Times articles, which claimed that the at least half of the Cupertino, California-based tech giant's Chinese suppliers were found to have violated at least one aspect of the Apple code of conduct annually since 2007.

In some cases, those suppliers even broke the law, Moore said, leading to an internal dispute over how to handle the situation. Specifically, Anand Krishnamoorthy of the Washington Post says that the New York Times revealed that violations included improper disposal of hazardous materials and falsified records.

Earlier this month, Apple agreed to allow third-party monitoring and inspections of those plants, Krishnamoorthy said. Furthermore, Moore said that the company published a list of all 156 suppliers for the first time, and became the first technology firm to join the nonprofit Fair Labor Association (FLA), an organization devoted to protecting workers' rights.

“We found that Apple takes supplier responsibility seriously and we look forward to their participation in the Fair Labor Association," Auret van Heerden, FLA's President and CEO, said in a January 13 press release. "We welcome Apple's commitment to greater transparency and independent oversight, and we hope its participation will set a new standard for the electronics industry.”


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