Where the real benefits of Apple come from

We are appear to be enjoying the benefits of Steve Jobs‘ lastest invention of the Iphone. Life appears never to have been better. And Apple believes to have the same attitude as well having over US$100 billion in cash based on latest financial reports. What we don’t know is the huge human costs involved to produce their products. The little we know of it does not sound beneficial. Begs the questions whether we should be enjoying the benefits of their products if we had a choice.

Report: Apple Still Ignoring Labor Abuses in Favor of Profits

January 26, 2012

A day after Apple recorded its best quarter ever, a report from The New York Times has questioned – again – whether Apple’s products are manufactured under safe and humane conditions.

The report notes that the questions surrounding Apple’s manufacturing practices are not exclusive to the company, noting that Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and others all used Taiwan or Chinese original design manufacturers, or ODMS, to manufacture their products under the OEM‘s brand. But Apple’s culture of secrecy, the report says, makes it difficult to truly know under what conditions its products are made.

Apple declined to comment to the Times.

The report is the second report by the Times on the so-called “iEconomy” of Taiwan, with a focus on the relationship between Apple and one of its largest suppliers, Foxconn. A previous report looked at Foxconn specifically, just days after the company’s chief executiveapologized for comments that were interpreted to mean that he compared his workers to animals. A rash of suicides plagued Foxconn in 2010, but suicide threats have persisted until this year.

The story uses Lai Xiaodong, a Foxconn employee, as the anchor, noting that his death in May 2011 had been caused by the improper ventilation of aluminum dust, a problem, one observer noted, that had been solved a century ago.

“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple’s most important manufacturing partners, as quoted by the Times.

The problem, as the Times reports again and again, is that Apple’s goal of reducing or eliminating inhumane working conditions bumps up against Apple’s profit motive. Apple’s public audits of its suppliers, a practice that it largely pioneered, continue to turn up labor violations.

“If you see the same pattern of problems, year after year, that means the company’s ignoring the issue rather than solving it,” one Apple supplier told the paper. “Noncompliance is tolerated, as long as the suppliers promise to try harder next time. If we meant business, core violations would disappear.”


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