Apple Inc, whose supplier Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團) was hit by a series of employee suicides last year, said a quick response by the Taiwanese assembler helped prevent further deaths.
Apple commissioned a review by a team of suicide-prevention experts after the worker deaths, and in August presented its findings to senior executives from both companies, including Foxconn founder and chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), according to Apple’s annual Supplier Responsibility report.
“The team commended Foxconn for taking quick action,” Apple wrote. “Foxconn had worked openly with many outside experts and government officials in reacting to the crisis. Most important, the investigation found that Foxconn’s response had definitely saved lives.”
Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs on June 2 denied Foxconn was a sweatshop, saying his company was “all over” the supplier to deal with the deaths.
The US firm’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, visited Foxconn’s Shenzhen, China, facility in June last year as part of an effort to stop worker suicides, the company said in the report.
Cook and his group met with Gou to discuss measures Foxconn was putting in place to prevent more deaths, Apple said in the report on Monday.
Most workers who took their own lives did so by leaping from company-owned high-rise dormitories.
Cook’s team, which included suicide-prevention specialists, made recommendations that Foxconn followed, including hiring psychological counselors, opening a 24-hour care center and installing nets in factories, Apple said.
Cook is now handling day-to-day operations at Apple, maker of the iPhone and Macintosh personal computers, while Jobs is on medical leave, the company said on Jan. 17.
Foxconn has more than 1 million employees who churn out products for customers including Apple, Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and Sony Corp.
In its report, Apple said its team interviewed workers and their managers in person and inspected Foxconn’s work and living areas.
Apple’s supplier responsibility report also said the company audited 127 supplier sites last year, 97 of them for the first time. More than 40 percent of the companies inspected last year said Apple was the first company to have audited them for social responsibility, the report said.
In addition to China, Apple has since 2007 conducted audits in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, the Czech Republic and the US.
Apple said it had addressed violations of its supplier code of conduct, including excessive fees charged to workers by recruitment agencies, use of underage workers and exposure to harmful chemicals.