Tim Cook, the Chinese chime in on the "Apple doesn't care" factory work conditions accusation

Tim Cook, the Chinese chime in on the
Looks like the NYT really opened the can of worms with its publication the other day, where former Apple employees suggest that the company is not really serious about improving working conditions in its suppliers' factories.

Not only did Apple's CEO Tim Cook respond to that internally, but when the New York Times reprinted the story in a Chinese publication to gauge opinions from the source, it was blasted with comments that told the other side of the story as well. 

Tim Cook apparently took the accusations to heart, since he is the one who basically created Apple's state-of-the-art supply chain, which allows it to make its popular and pricey products for the same money or less than the competition. Here is the wordy email he allegedly sent to the employees on the matter:

The comments from the Chinese business publication, where the NYT republished the story to solicit feedback, where pretty illuminating for the real state of affairs. We took out two, but there are a lot more in the source link that tell there is a flip side to that coin:

Well, there you have it - the way Tim Cook is dealing with what might become the first real PR challenge for Apple under his leadership will be telling for how he intends to run it in the future, and his approach seems to be more hands-on than before, when such stories were essentially shrugged off.

source: TheLede (NYT blog) & AppleInsider



2. android_hitman unregistered

it's really sad how people are exploited just to deliver us our gadgets... :(

13. JeffdaBeat unregistered

And yet, we have no problem in continuing to buy them. We can blast these companies all we want, but as long as we keep buying them, we are no better than Apple or Samsung...

15. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the 2nd commentator says he speaks as a person of experience in the industry but has never worked at foxconn. So he is looking up to the company with the most suicides and worker issues as better than the rest. If that was true, how comes foxconn has the most issues? where is the proof. sounds like it was a spot by someone with a vested interest in apple products from how many times he mentions the ipad. conditions in the industry are crap all over. its been well documented that foxconn and apple's shezen factory are among the worst of the worst though. apple can write all they nicey nice emails they want, but until people stop suiciding and threatening mass suicides i wont believe a word they say. And yea, foxconn will screw u out of money. There was an article with that not a month ago where they tricked people into voluntary termination promising they would get their pay and then after they quit.. screwed them out of every penny that they were owed.

28. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

@remix. Worse things happen in other companies, but no one cares to write about it. Why? Because it has nothing to do with Apple. Media likes attention so they can make headlines. Popular companies like Apple are the easy targets. Use your common sense. Apple has no control over China's employment laws. Even if Apple wanted to improve working conditions in China, they are only limited to what the Chinese government allows them. Apple does not even own Foxcon. Who is Apple to order Foxcon and the Chinese government how they should run their nation?

32. JeffdaBeat unregistered

The one thing Apple as well as a lot of other companies could do is change manufacturers. But the right thing to do versus the capitalist thing to do often differ. It's cheaper to outsource jobs instead of employing people in your biggest market...but companies don't do that either.

43. Ru4Sure

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 29, 2012

@530gemini, This apple guy sound like Ben is that u?

35. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

How long will remix continue to make sh*t up as he goes along hoping people will over look remix's ignorance? >So he is looking up to the company with the most suicides Please tell us remix (someone who claims he knows everything) how is this data available? In the US, anyone can go to the CDC website to get official data on sucides at CDC.gov (here's a quick factsheethttp://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/Suicide-DataSheet-a.pdf) . In mainland China, the Chinese gov't controls the data so whatever data you get is SUSPECT. > its been well documented that foxconn and apple's shezen factory are among the worst of the worst though. Another ongoing fallacy of logic by remix. Smart, educated, or intelligent people are quick to point out LOGIC demands "the worst of the worst" means someone has studied and examined ALL the factories in mainland China. Notice how remix never provides the data that details ALL these mainland Chinese factories, yet remix continues to harp on Apple's factories as being the worst. Remember the old Wendy's commercial: "Where's the Beef" -- hey remix, Where's your datat?

3. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

I like how the Chinese publication says "things are worse at other factories!" without a shred of proof, but also, and more importantly, doesn't deny that things are terrible at Foxconn. "Things are worse elsewhere!" doesn't excuse terrible conditions at the targeted place of work.

8. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

>I like how the Chinese publication says "things are worse at other factories!" without a shred of proof Apple, for better or worse, has offered transparency in its supply base, and as such, has been subject to many attacks due to said transparency. You do not see the same level of transparency nor leadership that Apple has continuely exhibited by the android OEM manufacturers. Ask yourself, who has more to hide? Second, how is someone (like Sniggly) who is located in America with below average internet search skills be in a position speak FAIRLY on the worker conditions in China? On a serious note, Sniggly can you read Mandarin or even Chinese pictograms (even I know 200 basic pictograms)? Third, we have someone like remixfa who constantly post on phonearena.com that Apple's Foxconn's factory has the WORSE conditions in (mainland) China. Logic dictates that to be the WORSE, someone had to examine every factory in mainland China. Obviously, remixfa is making sh*t up. Here is one of many remixfa's examples: "...because of ALL the factories, the APPLE factories are considered the worst working conditions.. in a country that routinely abuses its workers." Nice racist comments by remixfa, no less.

16. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

racist for calling a spade a spade? i didnt know you had to be Chinese to be a slave now. your an idiot ardent, through and through. "The report reveals that conditions at Foxconn's Chengdu manufacturing facility do not meet the standards of the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct, which states that workers can work no more than is legal, must work voluntarily and in safe conditions, and that workers be "treated with respect and dignity." "Though the legal limit for overtime is 36 hours a month, workers regularly work 80 to 100 hours of overtime in continuous shifts that cut or reduce meal breaks. While such overtime is technically voluntary, those who do not agree to work overtime say they are often penalized by being denied overtime in off-season months, when they need the money for living expenses, the report says." http://www.phonearena.com/news/Jon-Stewart-talks-with-Siri-about-workers-conditions-at-Foxconn_id25976/comments http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/06/foxconn-factory-conditions_n_858619.html http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/ieconomy-apples-ipad-and-the-human-costs-for-workers-in-china.html?pagewanted=all http://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/article/apple-embroiled-crisis-ny-times-exposes-atrocious-working-conditions-chinas-foxconn http://gizmodo.com/5844196/another-foxconn-factory-is-burning/gallery/1 http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/21/the-future-of-foxconn-the-birds/ http://wsws.org/articles/2012/jan2012/foxn-j14.shtml http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/01/foxconn-still-hard-place-work/47193/ http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/05/20/foxconn-plant-in-chengdu-china-where-ipads-are-made-suffers-explosion/

25. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Zing! +1

37. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

remix, calling you a racist is calling a spade a spade. First, you like to believe Americans are superior or better than the mainland Chinese. I disagree with you, Americans are not superior nor better, we are all the same in that we are human beings. Second, you should look up the word "stereotype" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype) -- you make numerous comments with EXTREME PREJUDICE against the mainland Chinese people -- as "in a country that ROUTINELY ABUSES its workers." (I capped your racists stereotypes for effect) and you do this repeatedly on phonearena.com. Third, you make very insensitive remarks against people in general. For example I bring up suicide rates per 100,000 (which is how we use the data in statistic to control for random events), and you make nasty comments about institutionalized people for severe depression -- wtf??? When you have cases of suicides, statisticians try to determine if there is anything out of the ordinary and it happens the sucide rates, while sad, at Foxconn comform with expectations. The workers at Foxconn are committing suicide AT THE SAME rate as the people committing suicide in the US, at 10 per 100,000 people. You don't hear outcries over the 10 per 100,000 people in the US. Fourth, you think you know everything like some omniscient sesquipedalianist (the truth is you are more like an oleaginous sputum). When someone commented against the NY Times article in China, providing information that remix's assertions are baseless, remix goes on a temper tantrum. What shock that Apple's Foxconn plants have higher paying salaries, better working conditions that non-Foxconn factories. remix, stop making blanketed racist comments about the mainland Chinese. Just do it in the privacy of your own home rather than online like phonearena,com.

22. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Look, I was going to let you go, though you're completely wrong, until you called Remixfa racist. That was completely uncalled for. There are many reports coming out of China about how much things suck for workers at Apple contractors. You don't have to read Mandarin Chinese to see the report about the petition started by workers begging Tim Cook to start taking actiontoward the poisonous conditions they're working in. If Apple is really trying to make changes, fantastic. But I'm not going to let their fanboys pretend that Apple didn't ignore issues like these for YEARS.

36. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

> until you called Remixfa racist. Calling remix a racist, is calling a spade a spade. remix has this view that Americans are better than the mainland Chinese despite the fact that Americans used to beat, whip, rape, chain, and kill black slaves until 1865 (after 1865, the KKK had their lynching parties). I don't recall where mainland China enslaves millions of black people. like we did in the US. When I commented that the suicide rate at Foxconn's plants were at 10 per 100,000 people, the same as in the US (data comes from CDC.gov), remix makes this remark: "you are comparing a national statistic that includes everyone and anyone including people that have been institutionalized for severe depression and comparing them against workers that have been beaten down and abused so bad that they feel the best thing for their family is to commit suicide at work!!" (source: post #23 athttp://www.phonearena.com/news/Apple-halts-sales-of-the-Apple-iPhone-4S-in-China-after-fights-break-out_id25844) remix says some of the stupidest and insensitive things at times. What does it mean "they feel the best thing for their family is to commit suicide at work" ... did remix talk to these people to develop empathy or did suddenly develop ESP to understand what these people were going through. > There are many reports coming out of China about how much things suck for workers at Apple contractors But those are second hand sources subject to biases. Like I wrote, Apple, for better or for worse, chose to make their reports transparent. It would be nice if Samsung, Asus, Acer, et al all did the same and provide transparency like Apple, but these android OEMs don't want the world to know about their factories.

39. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

I don't see any proof in your post that indicates that Remix is racist. You're just being a d**k and using ad hominem at this point. You're also indicating that you'd rather trust Apple than independent news sources over the truth about Apple's supply chain. Again, if Apple really is trying to improve things, great. But it doesn't change the fact that at least through now, things have sucked for the workers in question.

40. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

ardent, can u please find some proof of your claims that im an american supremist, racist, anti chineese, or whatever it is you are trying to say. the difference between u and me is i actually read up on the things i talk about. you ask me where i get the things i say from. guess what, they are paraphrased from these things called articles. they are all over the place.. in the news on tv, internet, newspapers. its magical. those blue things that i put in the last response are called links. if you click on one it will take you to one of those magical articles i was talking about. you should try it. then maybe instead of talking out your arse and making wild accusations with no proof, you might be able to hold an actual conversation about the subject without acting like a wild blind ifanboy. for someone that claims to be a big bad business guy and patented inventor, you sure do act like a petulant and under educated child.

44. robinrisk unregistered

ardent, you are talking out of your behind. Lets blow things out of proportion and say that Foxconn employs 1,700,000 million people only working FOR apple. There were much more than 17 suicides on a single factory, which would be the average to claim that there is only 10 suicides per 100,000 people. Foxconn employs less than 1,700,000 milion people ONLY working FOR apple, aND there were more than 17 suicides. You are bogus.

9. rf1975

Posts: 264; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

Who knows about the things in other OEM factory for Samsung, Lenovo, Asus etc. Tim cook done a good job by opening the apple supply chain for FLA. Other companies pleased to hear these kind of criticizing about about Apple. But I am sure that Samsung, Asus, Lenovo or Compaq will follow Apple in near future. Because they have lot to hide.

23. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

And you know this how, exactly?

29. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

@sniggly. If you are that concerned. Then do something about it. Go run for president in China. Otherwise, stop acting like the authority. Have you been to China? Have you actually conducted studies on work conditions in China? There are other countries with much worse working conditions. Now where is NYT to write about it? If anything, they should be grateful that Apple has provided Chinese people work. And that Apple is doing what they can to improve working conditions when they don't even own Foxcon.

38. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

You didn't really just say that I'm not allowed to say anything negative about the situation for workers in Apple's supply chain unless I'm actually over there trying to get in with their government, did you? That has to rank among the stupidest things you've ever said about anything, Gemini. Why do you think saying "things suck worse elsewhere" is an effective rebuttal to "things suck for these people"? And sure, it's nice that they have jobs, but I'd rather be unemployed than work in a job as s**tty as what's being described by these reports.

4. Exofuji

Posts: 19; Member since: Jan 25, 2012

The reality of our world is someone has to be exploited. I wish it weren't so.

17. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

It is an unfortunate truth. That's how America really built itself up. On the backs of indentured servants from Europe, then the slaves from Africa. Followed by near-slavery conditions of Chinese and Irish immigrants building the railroads,mining, and other infrastructure. The working conditions of the factories at the turn of the century were about on par with modern plants such as Foxconn. (However unions may be viewed today there was a real legitimate need for their inception.) It wasn't even until the 1960's with the Women's Lib and Civil Rights Movements that segregation was ended in America and women and blacks were given some kind of workplace equality. (Well, not quite equality yet... almost, but not really.) In Capitalism, one must capitalize in order to succeed. A definition of capitalize? Capitalize- to take advantage of; turn something to one's advantage (often followed by on ): to capitalize on one's opportunities or another's disadvantages.

5. thebikerboi2

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 01, 2011

to be honest apple really needs to be shaken up and stop being an international ass hole

6. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Hey look it's the people in power favorite move the almighty finger pointing, or as I say shunting the responsibility or focus elsewhere. Incredible, gotta love grown ups eh? Still act like children when they get caught doing something wrong.

7. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

If Apple manufactured the iDevices stateside, they would cost (at least) double the present amount. It is labor cost arbitrage with the added benefit of plausible deniability when workers die on the job for whatever reason.

14. Tux4g63

Posts: 121; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

If Apple did manufacture stateside, yes it would cost at least double to produce the same product. But they are in a unique position that they could do it, and create long term good will and added value to there brand name and image. Of all the OEM's out there, Apple makes the most margin on there products. Without knowing exact figures and numbers, as no one besides probably Apple themselves is privy to that information, printed rough estimates usually put Apple products into a 65-70% profitability bracket on there devices. No other OEM has anything close to that sort of margin. Apple would take a hit bringing production back into the US, but they more than anyone else can afford it. And if they didn't raise prices on there products, I would tend to think that sort of PR would make more believers and converts and repeat buyers out of the US consumer market. Then again, what is being asked would be for Apple to knowingly take a margin hit to boost the US economy, create jobs, and cement Apple as an enduring US product that as a company tries to make a positive impact at a time when corporate policy has been especially focused on squeezing every penny out of every dollar. Will they do it? Well if the late Steve Jobs has anything to say about it, than no. I have to say I would go out and spend my hard earned money to purchase an ipod if Tim Cook moved manufacturing back here into the US just on principal. And I would openly laud the efforts and direction of the company for doing so too.

26. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

I strongly disagree about the cost without figures to back it up. Would apple be able to make iphones and ipads for under $200 (parts, assembly, labor, shipping) anymore? Almost certainly not, but they could sure afford to price the devies at the same amount as they are. Sure that cuts into their ridiculous profit margin (over 65% across the board), but if apple really cared that much, they, moreso than any other company due to its unique user base and financial and political control, has the power to make the change, and would be glad to do so. "With great power comes great responsibility", and it's apple's responsiblity to be responsible and do something about this. Heck, I wouldn't even have a problem with apple making their stuff in China or anywhere else as long as the people in their supply chains are in working conditions no worse than those in any OSHA-approved manufacturing concern in the US, or the equivalent in Europe, and that the workers are paid the equivalent wages per their national economy as their international brethren. That way apple can keep making the devices for probably less than it would cost to make them in North America or Europe, keep the suppy chain in check and shipping costs down (as most of the materials that go into electronics comes from southern Asia), but without the health and welfare costs to the human workers. If that can't be done, spend all that blood money developing robots that can do the same jobs, as long as the people who are assembling the robots are in a good working environment.

42. Tux4g63

Posts: 121; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

Foxconn has stated they will be implementing more robotic workers in the near future, this year, and eventually over the next few years will move the entire manufacturing and assembly process to full automation. Basically at this point Apple and Foxconn are just weathering the storm until this all blows over and they can get back to "business as usual."

10. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

I haven't seen publicity like this ever caused a large number of consumers in western countries not buy products in the past. I don't see this case being any different. People will still buy the products for their brand name. No one has ever sold a lot of products on good labour practices.

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