We love our Chinese workers really
The Apple religion's Pope, Tim Cook Jobs II appears to have approached the problem that his suppliers are running sweat shops by using the Pope Benedict spin method.
Pope Benedict dealt with the crisis in the Catholic Church by saying that it was investigating fully, but poking choirboys was OK in his day and Bishops who express anti-Semitic views should be embraced by the church. The fact that everything had been going on for years, even when he was in charge of Church discipline had nothing to do with it, it was being looked into now. Cook has just banged out an email to staff which says that Apple is very concerned about its Chinese workers, who threatened mass suicide recently after Foxconn just forgot about a pay deal it had struck with them.
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,” Cook wrote. “Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.”
It seems the reality distortion field about who Apple really is does not tally with the reality that its Chinese partners do have some rather unpleasant work practises. Although Foxconn workers would feel very much that Apple loves them in the same way that the Catholic priests loved child abuse. Cook has to answer a lot of questions. Why do employees work excessive overtime, how have they died in factory explosions and why do they live in crowded dormitories. He said that Apple will continue to dig deeper, and will undoubtedly find more issues. But he insisted that the company never stood still nor turned a blind eye to problems.
“On this you have my word.”
This might have been news to his boss Steve Jobs who insisted to fanboys that their expensive toys were not made in blood spattered sweatshops. While he was alive Jobs said more or less what Cook stated now. "It's a difficult situation... We're trying to understand right now, before we go in and say we know the solution." While Apple apparently did manage to stop the Chinese from using child labour, there has been little chance since Jobs claimed he was investigating.
So either he was ignorant about what went on in the plants, or he did not care. Certainly Jobs was not renown for his philanthropy. Cook now finds himself dealing with the sins of his saviour. He has to act fast before the reality distortion field slips further and people wake up to the fact that it is exploiting Chinese workers to make larger profit margins.
He has made the right steps. Apple said it agreed to let outside monitors into its supply factories to monitor conditions.
“We are attacking problems aggressively with the help of the world’s foremost authorities on safety, the environment, and fair labour,” Cook wrote in the e-mail. “It would be easy to look for problems in fewer places and report prettier results, but those wouldn’t be the actions of a leader.”
Whether he actually has the nerve to do what needs to be done is another matter, or if he continues to follow the Pope Benedict way and hopes that fanboys will forget how many people died to bring them an iPhone4S.