Apple CEO, Tim Cook’s widely reported maiden visit to the country that is home to the second largest market for his ‘iProducts’, is surely turning to be quite eventful, already. According to reports, yesterday, both Apple Inc. and Foxconn locked-in on an agreement, following which working conditions across the Foxconn plants should undergo a massive facelift, changing everything ‘disturbing’ that the factories were earlier associated with. According to the agreement, both Apple Inc. and Foxconn have agreed to improve the wages of the labourers, in addition to improving the working conditions across their plants. Over the months, when Foxconn grabbed global headlines, illegal work schedules had grown increasingly synonymous with Foxconn, but, if reports are to be believed then the new agreement will see a massive number of recruits, as many as tens of thousands, joining in. The agreement, reportedly also has provisions for improving the safety protocols followed in the factories, while also changing the worker housing conditions and other amenities for the better. The report further adds that in his brief meeting with the Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, Tim Cook affirmed that he was working towards resolving labour issues in China.
Tim Cook inside the Foxconn plant (Image credit: Bloomberg)
Cook’s visit to the country, more so to the Foxconn plant follows closely a detailed investigation carried out by the Fair Labour Organization (FLA) at Apple's behest to gauge the working conditions in the factories. As part of the investigation, officials from the FLA interviewed the workers, wherein they were asked to detail the officials about their working hours, amenities, medical and housing facilities, among other things. The working conditions at the factories had come under lot of criticism recently, after reports about workers commiting suicide began surfacing. Cook, in a lengthy e-mail to his employees stated that Apple has the best interests of all those labourers at heart, and they really do care about their welfare. The agreement, reportedly will also see Foxconn erecting new housing for its workers, which would help develop better working conditions, since it will be a better situation than earlier, where several workers would be made to fit into dorm rooms – a practice, which is inhuman by Western standards. Accident reporting and encouraging and helping workers to be a part of social welfare are also issues, which the implementation of the new rules will address.
In a rather interesting revelation made by this report, it was learnt that officials from the FLA during the course of their research found out that some energetic, enthusiastic workers although prepared to put in those extra hours of work, weren't too happy with the food at the factories. If we were to cite numbers, then the surveyers found that 71 percent of the 35,000 workers they interviewed did not think that the canteens served good food.