Apple: Factory labour probed
15 February 2012, 17:08
San Francisco - Apple chief executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday that
ensuring safe working conditions at plants making its coveted gadgets is
a priority, as an audit of a key supplier continued in China.
takes working conditions very seriously and we have for a very long
time," Cook said during an on-stage interview at a Goldman Sachs
Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.
"We know people have a high expectation of Apple; we have an even higher expectation of ourselves."
comments came a day after a labour watchdog group began sanctioned
checks of working conditions at a massive Foxconn plant in southern
China that makes products for the California-based gadget-maker.
agreed in January to allow inspections by the Fair Labour Association
(FLA) following reports that employees were overworked and underpaid at
Foxconn factories in China.
The Taiwan-owned Foxconn is the largest manufacturer of Apple products.
teams will also inspect factories owned by two other Taiwan-owned
manufacturers, Quanta and Pegatron, which also make Apple products.
Apple said the FLA's findings and recommendations will be posted on its website, fairlabor.org, in early March.
terms of problems we are looking to fix, no one in our industry is
doing more to improve working conditions than Apple," Cook said.
are constantly auditing facilities looking for problems, finding
problems and fixing problems, and we report everything because we think
transparency is incredibly important."
Apple has taken to
micro-managing schedules at plants to safeguard against employees
working more than 60 hours weekly and considers intentionally hiring
underage labour a "firing offense", he added.
blockbuster quarterly earnings last month with net profit more than
doubling to a record $13.06bn and revenue soaring to an all-time high of
Shares of Apple have been rising
steadily on the release of a string of hit products starting with the
iPod in 2001, followed by the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010.
said that despite an unprecedented 37 million iPhones sold in the last
quarter, Apple has only begun to tap into the gargantuan, and growing,
global mobile phone market.
"It was a decent quarter," Cook said
in an understatement that prompted laughter from the audience. "This is a
jaw-dropping industry; we see tremendous opportunity."
annual smartphone market is projected to hit a billion units in the year
2015, with a quarter of that demand to come from China and Brazil,
according to Apple's chief executive.
The global success of
iPhones has put Apple products in the minds of hundreds of millions of
people around the world getting online for the first time in the mobile
"Everyone in every country wants the best product, not a
cheap version of the best product; that is the common thread that runs
through," Cook said.
He was adamant that it is just a matter of
time before the tablet market, set ablaze by the iPad, overtakes the
market for desktop computers.
"It doesn't mean
the PC [personal computer] is going to die," he said. "But I strongly
believe the tablet market will surpass the PC market."
the Apple board of directors is having "very active discussions"
regarding whether the whopping $98bn in Apple's coffers means it is time
to loosen purse strings and pay shareholders a dividend or buy back
"We spend our money like it is our last penny," Cook said of Apple.
are not going to go have a toga party here or do something outlandish,"
he said of Apple's frugality. "People don't need to worry that [the
money] is burning a hole in our pocket."
Cook sidestepped a
question regarding what mark he expected to leave on Apple, saying
instead that he will maintain the winning formula cooked up by late
co-founder Steve Jobs.
"Apple is this unique company, unique
culture that you can't replicate," Cook said. "I'm not going to witness
or permit the slow undoing of it."
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