Apple CEO Jobs Says Foxconn Conditions Not So Bad
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is all over the
Foxconn situation, he told conference goers at All Things Digital June 1.
While saying he found the worker suicides-10 in total, following 12 attempts-"very troubling," Jobs added, "We are on top of this," according to the tech site Daily Finance.
TG Daily, however, painted Jobs' comments as being more in defense-if not in celebration-of Foxconn, saying "Foxconn is not a sweatshop," and adding, "You go in this place and it's a factory but, my gosh, they've got restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools. For a factory, it's pretty nice."
Reuters has reported that Foxconn's campus is a city in itself that includes numerous amenities and leaves little for workers to go looking for outside its walls. And while workers reportedly have access to bakeries, shopping malls and an Olympic-size swimming pool, what they don't seem to have is time, much of a life or an income that matches their long work weeks.
By numerous accounts, Foxconn employees are said to generally work 12-hour days, with rarely a day off, and under strict conditions on assembly lines, where they perform repetitive tasks and are not allowed to talk to coworkers-whether for sanitary or efficiency reasons.
On May 27, the BBC reported that the alleged 12th suicide attempt had taken place-again, with a young male employee throwing himself from the height of a Foxconn dormitory-just hours after Foxconn founder and President Terry Gou led journalists on a tour of the factory, in an effort to prove that he was not the head of a sweatshop.
Foxconn has since announced that it will raise wages at the factory by an average of 20 percent, but has still faced additional pressure from the Chinese government to address the situation, which has attracted worldwide media attention.
On May 29, an official from the top Communist Party in the region where the Foxconn campus is located called for an improvement in labor unions and said that Foxconn and the government "must work together and take effective measures to prevent similar tragedies from happening again."
The Foxconn factory assembles high-end electronics for companies that include Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Nokia, in addition to Apple, and on May 26, several of them released statements expressing their regrets about the deaths and insisting they were looking into worker conditions.
However, with the iPhone and iPad both assembled at Foxconn, and Apple currently feeling the pinch to create enough iPads to meet international demand, it's the Apple brand that's become most closely linked with Foxconn's name and overworked employees.
"Apple does one of the best jobs of any company understanding the working conditions of our supply chain," Jobs said June 1 at the conference and reiterated that Apple is working with Foxconn to improve conditions.