Back in July, I argued that Apple’s labor costs should be higher. The company is very profitable, and it wouldn’t cut into their profits much to better compensate employees. This week, there have been a lot of developments on this front. Employees at a Foxconn factory in China threatened mass suicide if they were not given better pay. Also, Mike Daisey, who has travelled to China to observe working conditions there himself, appeared on This American Life to perform part of his one-man show, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.”
Today, Apple has made some announcements that indicate it is taking more responsibility for labor conditions in its factories. They have released a full list of their suppliers along with a detailed report on working conditions in its factories. Apple has also joined the Fair Labor Association and will allow independent inspections of its factories. Hopefully other electronics makers will follow suit.
Addressing the issues Apple has found in its inspections will cost the company more money, but they can afford it. Here’s to them spending even more in the future. As an aside, I can’t help but wonder whether this is happening now because it’s something that’s more important to Tim Cook than it was to Steve Jobs.