Tim Cook: No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple.

Tim Cook: No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple.

Today at a Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a keynote presentation in which he addressed the issues surrounding Apple and working conditions in China.

“Apple takes working conditions very seriously,” said Cook, launching right into a question about how Apple handles working conditions. “We take the conditions of workers very seriously. I worked in factories, I worked at a paper mill. We understand working conditions at a very granular level.”

Cook spoke of paying attention to details right down to the proper fire extinguishers being supplied at facilities.

“I realize that the supply chain is very complex, and the issues surrounding it are very complex. But we believe that every worker has the right to a safe working environment where workers can earn a fair wage,” Cook said. “Apple suppliers must live up to this in order to do business with Apple.”

“We provide free classes at many locations in our supply chain, and partner with colleges to provide courses. More than 60,000 employees have attended these classes. It would be a campus population larger than Arizona State, which is the largest state campus in the United States.”

Cook said that these classes are a ‘powerful stepping stone’ for those workers looking to advance their lives. The Apple University, which it appears is what Cook is referring to, is an educational effort put into place by late CEO Steve Jobs in order to impart Apple’s way of doing business to its employees.

“We think that the use of underage labor is abhorrent. Our top priority is to eliminate it entirely,” Cook said. “If we find a supplier that intentionally supplies underage labor, it’s a firing offense.”

The Apple CEO said that he knows Apple is expected to lead when it comes to worker safety and supplier responsibility, and that it wants to continue to do so. To that end, Apple will publish monthly updates on worker hours, overtime and working conditions to its website.

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