Apple audit led by COO Tim Cook prompted improvements at Foxconn

“Apple Inc. dispatched its chief operating officer to a Chinese manufacturing partner last year to assess and advise the company after a rash of highly publicized suicides raised concerns about worker conditions at companies affiliated with the consumer-electronics giant,” Ian Sherr reports for The Wall Street Journal. “In its annual survey of suppliers, Apple said Tim Cook visited a Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. factory in Shenzhen, China, last June after nearly a dozen workers killed themselves, some by jumping from buildings.”

“The Cupertino, Calif., company said Mr. Cook and his team made recommendations, including better training of counselors, which were adopted by Foxconn, according to the report made public Monday. Mr. Cook and his team interviewed more than 1,000 workers and evaluated Foxconn’s reaction to the events, which included establishing a 24-hour care center,” Sherr reports. “Apple has now audited 288 supplier facilities since 2007 and it is expanding its initiatives to make sure its partners don’t employ underage workers, that they appropriately train employees and that they pay fair wages, according to the report.”

Sherr reports, “The company said the results of these audits led the company to terminate its relationship with three facilities because management didn’t enact changes it expected.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

26 Comments

    1. Nothing to do with being “a good American” but more about being a responsible industry leader. You will find this behaviour prevalent in many societies and not just the US.

  1. Continued stories with Tim Cook as the star. No doubt he deserves the notice, but these stories are prepping the world for Steve Jobs’ retirement announcement. Apple wants to everyone to know and love Tim Cook to reduce the panic when Steve goes. I have no doubt that Apple is behind this radical increase in Tim Cook stories.

  2. Tim’s the ops guy, responsible for Apple’s day-to-day ops, so this is his responsibility. There’s that famous story where there was a problem in one of his underlings division, and half way thru a meeting Tim turned to him, and said, “what, are you still here?” meaning that the guy should have already left to address the problem. I can see Tim, hearing of the rash of suicides at Foxconn, not getting the answers he wanted to hear, jumped on a jet to Shenzhen with his team to find out. Good for Tim, good for Apple.

  3. Yes this is clearly a planted story, what is of interest though is the line

    “it is expanding its initiatives to make sure its partners don’t employ underage workers, that they appropriately train employees and that they pay fair wages, according to the report.”

    so it wasn’t checking for these basic things on the initial audits?

    the suicides were believed to be caused by ridiculous working hours and poor pay and all recent independent observations and reports coming from the Foxconn factory suggest little has changed.

    Something silly like $10 or less is the assembly cost to Apple for Foxconn. Would you really object to paying $5 more to ensure your shiny new toy isn’t the product of someone else’s misery.

    1. It says “expanding” initiatives, Gareth, not “brand-new-we-never-even-thought-about-it-before” initiatives. Inidividuals and companies can always improve. Apple saw room for improvement and took action. That’s a good thing.

      As far as “initial audits” are concerned, are you so naive that you believe that Foxconn facilitated any kind of thorough documentation that might reveal poor working conditions, etc.? Not a chance. But give credit where it is due – Apple started to dig when it became apparent that there was a problem.

      Other companies utilize Foxconn, too. How much have they done?

      I agreed that working conditions should be reasonable and that low prices should not be obtained at the expense of the working class. But your offhand used of POOTB numbers adds nothing to this discussion.

  4. Their suicide ate is less than the Chinese general population.

    If you want to talk suicides, let’s look to our troops caught in an endless war drummed up by the Republican led war machine.

    The Military Industrial Complex is doing most of the mind destruction on this planet, way way more than AAPL or Foxconn

    1. Yes, my neighbor a Iraqi war vet killed himself last year. A devastating lose for the neighborhood. I also met parents of an Iraqi vet who killed himself earlier this year. Our soldiers, underpaid, overworked and under appreciated. Hope Tim Cook is hired to look into our abuse of our own soldiers — certainly our elected officials couldn’t care less.

  5. Cook is like the First Officer of the Enterprise (“No. 1”) to Job’s Captain Pickard. But enough with their differences. This story and a few others actually highly how the two have in common – they never seem to sleep; they never take a day off, and they are detail-minded. When you get to talk to them you better have your stuff ready because they have probably already out-researched you and thought of 5 other alternatives.

  6. The real problem is in communist made products. I’m an apple fanboy, no doubt, I’ve used a mac since 1987, have an iphone and every ipod ever made. Problem is, I don’t like buying communist made products. Sorry if this is not politically correct, but I still buy into the buy democracy paradigm.

    1. Chad, in case you didn’t notice, Capitalism took everything we had of value and gave it to the Communists so that they wouldn’t have to pay their employees a livable wage. Other than the muffins at your local coffee shop, (The coffee is imported) what have you bought made in USA lately? Pants? Shoes? You can still buy USA jeans, $60, is that too much? New Balance shoes.

    2. Sure, but it is the American capitalistic industrialists that pushed manufacturing to “developing countries”. Before it was Mexico and South America and now its the east (China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.). So who’s really to blame for you having to buy “communist made products”?

        1. You can’t just blame the industrialists. Everyday Americans themselves are to blame too. They wanted ever lower prices, more bang for the buck, and there are many who complain about the loss of manufacturing jobs, and then go do all their shopping at Wal-Mart, too ignorant to see what they’re supporting. Given the choice, I think many would choose the lower prices over the good feeling of buying American.

          That being said, unlike most, I have no problem with manufacturing leaving this country. America is no longer an industrialist country, it’s post-industrialist. We lead with ideas, design, and innovation, and let someone else do the dirty work of actually manufacturing it. I have no problem with this, I’d rather enjoy being knowledge labor, rather than physical labor. People should see the writing on the wall, and get with the program. There is always construction for those who fall behind. That might sound harsh, but the truth can hurt.

          Disclaimer: I am in no way implying that anyone who makes their living in construction or other manufacturing is below me. A job that supports you and your family is a job worth having. Many people in my own family have and still do work for Ford and GM, I’m just trying to say that manufacturing in the US is not viable in the long run if we continue our current lust for ever lower prices, and since I don’t see that lust going away, a manufacturing job should no longer be viewed as a “good job.”

      1. Isn’t “buying communist products” a contradiction?
        China is having private companies accept money in exchange for services and good. They are certainly blurring the lines, if not practicing capitalism by definition.

    1. You’re confusing economics and politics, and missing more than a few data points. The Communist Party is still in charge, and – despite their manufacturing and export successes – still retains major involvement in the economy, including government ownership of business interests.

    2. Raymond is right. China has always been somewhat capitalist economically speaking, and Hong Kong is the most capitalist place in the world, but politically China is still very much rooted in Communist tradition, if not sticking to the letter of the doctrine itself. At the very least, they’re an oligarchy.

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