Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, was moved to tears by a play about the working conditions of Apple’s factories in China.
Woz went to see “The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs” by Mike Daisey on Tuesday night at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. The one -man show, which describes the working conditions in the massive factories that make gadgets for Apple, Hewlett-Packard and others, made Wozniak cry.
The Apple cofounder told the New York Times’ Bay Citizen website:
“The shocking things that Mike said which brought me to tears were so because they came as a first-person story,” Wozniak said. “Mike was living the pain of what he was describing as he told it.”
The monologue describes Daisey’s trip to Shenzhen last year, where he met workers at Foxconn’s plant as young as 12 and 13, and heard tales of the long, repetitive work. As many as 17 workers have committed suicide at the Foxconn plant.
Wozniak also said: “I will never be the same after seeing that show.”
It appears that Steve Jobs has hasn’t seen the show, but Tim Cook, Apple’s COO acting chief executive in Jobs’ absence was asked about it at Apple annual shareholders’ meeting last week. Cook at first said unless it was on ESPN on CNBC, he hadn’t seen it. He then gave “a fervent defense” of Apple’s supply chain, according to the Los Angeles Times. Cook said Apple is doing a lot more about working conditions than any other company.
Cook said in everything from worker safety to making processes environmentally friendly “we have the highest standards,” adding that Apple is the most transparent in its auditing and reporting than any other company, reporting actual problems and taking real action.
Cook also noted that Apple’s policies apply not just to the more reputable companies it does direct business with, but that its auditing is “going deep into the supply chain” where the real problems are. He described problems such as workers from countries like Indonesia who are recruited by layers of companies that each charge fees that add up to be a large amount of the workers’ wages, or fake young workers’ birth certificates to skirt employment laws.
Apple has terminated relationships with suppliers who “just don’t get it,” Cook said, while working to resolve problems with others who appear to have made honest mistakes. Cook noted that Apple’s actions “will help more than Apple,” because the company is pushing to change how business is done.
It had forced reimbursements of $300 million to workers and has involved governments to get involved and understand the issues. “We are doing the heavy lifting,” Cook said. “I am really proud of the changes we have forced in.”