Apple boss defends conditions at iPhone factory


Apple boss Steve Jobs has defended conditions at a Taiwanese electronics firm that produces the firm's popular iPhone, following a spate of suicides.

"Foxconn is not a sweatshop," he told a conference in the US.

Mr Jobs said that Apple representatives were working with Foxconn to find out why 10 workers had killed themselves at a factory in Shenzhen, China.

An eleventh worker recently died at another factory in northern China.

In total, there have been 13 suicides and suicide attempts at Foxconn factories this year.

"We're all over this," said Mr Jobs at the All Things Digital conference in California.

Foxconn has said that it will give its assembly line workers a 30% pay rise.

The firm had previously said that it would offer a 20% pay increase to its Chinese workers, who earn 900 yuan (£90) per month at entry-level.

"We hope the hike in wages will help improve the living standards of the workers and allow them to have more leisure time, which is good for their health," an official of Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai precision told AFP.

Hon Hai Precision is the world's largest maker of consumer electronics, and employs 800,000 workers worldwide, mostly in China.

Foxconn makes a range of products for manufacturers including Apple, Dell and Nokia.

The deaths have shone a spotlight on working conditions at the factory, where workers - often from rural China - work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

But Mr Jobs defended the conditions.

"You go in this place and it's a factory but, my gosh, they've got restaurants and movie theatres and hospitals and swimming pools. For a factory, it's pretty nice," he said.

Surreal moment

Mr Jobs addressed a number of other issues at the All Things Digital conference.

Last week, Apple overtook Microsoft to become the world's largest technology company by market value.

"For those of us that have been in the industry a long time, it's surreal. But it doesn't matter very much, it's not what's important," Mr Jobs said.

"It's not what makes you come to work every morning."

He also claimed that Apple's controversial move to block Adobe Flash animation and video technology from its popular iPhones and iPads was "a technical decision".

"We didn't start off to have a war with Flash or anything else," he said.

The comments are the latest step in a long-running dispute between Apple and Adobe over the Flash platform.

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