updated 07:00 am EDT, Thu May 10, 2012
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Apple and controversial Chinese manufacturing partner Foxconn are said to be sharing the costs on improving work conditions at its Chinese factories. According to Reuters, Foxconn boss Terry Gou has spoken out on the matter, although he did not place a dollar figure on the investment or exactly where the money will be spent. The company has already raised worker wages by between 16 and 25 percent and has also added thousands more workers to its million-employee workforce to reduce the amount of overtime.
‘We've discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength,’ Gou told a group of reporters present at Foxconn’s ground-breaking ceremony for its new China headquarters to be based in Shanghai. ‘I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs,’ he added.
Foxconn has been the subject of tremendous media scrutiny resulting in a large amount of negative publicity surrounding the plight of its employees. The fact that it is one of Apple’s largest manufacturing partners has also helped to garner media attention in addition to number of employee suicides that have taken place at its factories in recent years. Less well known is that the company also produces products for many other leading manufacturers including Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Nokia, Dell, HP and Nintendo all which have eluded media scrutiny.
At Apple’s request, the Fair Labor Association recently conducted an audit of Foxconn’s facilities in China and unearthed numerous issues with employee working conditions, overtime, as well as health and safety risks. Apple CEO Tim Cook responded by undertaking a tour of Foxconn’s facilities himself, demonstrating the seriousness with which Apple views the issue. It has also published a dedicated webpage detailing its efforts on improving working conditions in its supply and production network.