Although Tim Cook was present at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference mostly to talk numbers, he couldn’t avoid questions about the working conditions in China at its suppliers’ plants.
But who says Cook wanted to dodge these questions? In fact, the Apple CEO elaborated quite a bit on the matter.
He said, “The first thing I would want everyone to know […] Apple takes working conditions very, very seriously […] we care about every worker […] i spent a lot of time in factories personally […] we understand working conditions at a very granular level.”
Apple and its partner Foxconn have received quite a bit of bad press lately over allegedly turning a blind eye to some serious issues in the latter's turf.
Cook admitted that “the supply chain is complex […] but my commitment is very, very simple,” he confidently stated.
The CEO stressed that Apple believes that “every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment, free of discrimination, where they can earn competitive wages, and voice their concerns freely.” Cook added that “education is the great equalizer,” in Apple’s opinion.
“We've put a lot of effort to supplying educational resources to our workers throughout our supply chain. We supply free classes in many place thoroughout our supply chain. More than 60,000 employees have attended these classes, which is pretty amazing when you think about it,” he said.
Apple thinks the use of under-aged labor is “abhorrent” and while Cook admits it does happen from time to time in Apple’s supply chain, “our top priority is to eliminate it totally,” he said.
“We've done that with our final assembly and we're now working with vendors farther down in the supply chain. If we find a supplier that intentionally hires underage labor, it's a firing offense.”
Cook pointed out to the disclosures on Apple’s web site regarding the problems Apple is tackling, “but I can tell you that no one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple,” he added.
To liste to the audio webcast of Tim Cook's presentation at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, visit Apple here. A VoiceOver version of the keynote address is also available.