Apple’s Chief Puts Stamp on Labor Issues

In what represents Apple CEO Tim Cook’s markedly different approach from his predecessor – the legendary Steve Jobs – with regard to the labor issues at Apple’s Chinese supplier Foxconn, Cook visited one of the Foxconn factories during his recent visit to China and acknowledged the fact that there were some problems which need to be sorted out.

The reports of the deplorable working conditions at Foxconn’s factories had come to the fore when Jobs was the CEO of Apple, and though Jobs was furious to learn about the serious violations of the company’s supplier code of conduct, he never actually visited Apple’s Chinese supplier factories.

However, Cook – who took over the reins of Apple shortly before Job passed away in October – had been directly involved in Apple’s attempts to audit its suppliers even when Jobs was at the helm.

In fact, Cook has been much closer to Apple’s supply chain than Jobs, since he was initially hired to clean up the manufacturing operations, which were in complete disarray when Jobs returned to Apple in 1997. Cook not only helped transform Apple’s operations for the better, but also efficiently contributed to the production of latest Apple products, with a number of partners, largely in Asia.

Noting that Cook has already made a significant mark as a CEO by taking steps to address the concerns about the manufacturing process of the popular Apple devices, Dara O’Rourke - associate professor of environmental and labor policy at the University of California, Berkeley – said that Cook should get credit for “admitting they (Apple) have got problems.”