Apple CEO Steve Jobs has defended working conditions at Foxconn, the Taiwan-based iPhone manufacturer that has been thrown into the spotlight by a spate of worker suicides at a plant in China.
AFP - Apple chief executive Steve Jobs defended conditions at Taiwan-based Foxconn, an iPhone-linked electronics producer plagued by a rash of worker suicides in China.
"Foxconn is not a sweatshop," Jobs said during an on-stage chat at a prestigious All Things Digital conference in the southern California coastal town of Rancho Palos Verdes.
"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."
Apple contracts Foxconn to make the iPhone, which has become the must-have gadget around the world.
Ten workers at a giant Foxconn plant in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen have fallen to their deaths in apparent suicides this year. An 11th worker died at another factory in northern China.
"We're all over this," Jobs said. "I actually think Apple does one of the best jobs of any company in the industry and maybe any industry of understanding the working conditions in the supply chain."
Foxcon said Wednesday it was raising the pay of its Chinese assembly line workers by 30 percent.
The pay raise took effect immediately, said an official at Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai Precision, which said last week that it was considering a hike of at least 20 percent from the basic monthly pay of 900 yuan (130 US dollars).
"We hope the hike in wages will help improve the living standards of the workers and allow them to have more leisure time, which is good for their health," the official said, declining to be named.
Jobs theorized that young people leaving poor rural communities for jobs at Foxconn factories that are cities unto themselves might be overwhelmed trying to adjust to their new environments and to being far from friends and family.
Many workers are from poor inland provinces and harbor dreams of making big money in places like Shenzhen, the cradle of China's astonishing economic revolution over the border from Hong Kong.
They work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week, assembling products that most cannot afford to buy themselves: Apple iPhones, Dell computers and Nokia mobiles.
"I think there are some real issues there," Jobs said. "We?re trying to understand, before going in with a solution."
Date created : 2010-06-02