Apple and Foxconn to split factory improvement costs
Vendor and key supplier agree to pool resources to improve working conditions at Chinese assembly plants.
Foxconn Technology Group and Apple are to split the cost of improving the working conditions at the Chinese factories where the vendor’s iPhones and iPads are made.
Foxconn chief Terry Gou did not give a figure for the costs, but the group has been investing heavily in the firm’s Chinese factories that have been criticised in the past for resembling sweatshops.
"We've discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength," Gou told reporters on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for a new China headquarters in Shanghai.
"I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs."
It was unclear if the split would be 50/50 or in some other ratio.
Foxconn announced in mid-February that it had raised wages for workers by 16 to 25 percent, and in late March it reached an agreement with Apple to hire tens of thousands of new workers to reduce overtime work.
Analysts have attributed weaker-than-expected first-quarter results at Foxconn's flagship listed unit Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd mainly to rising salary costs.
Hon Hai has been trying to cut rising Chinese labor costs in the past two or three years, and has been relocating plants to areas of China where wages are lower.
Foxconn's manufacturing in China will focus on domestic consumers in the country of 1.3 billion people, as well as research and development in technology, sales and services, Gou said.
Foxconn Technology Group's other listed units include Foxconn International Holdings, the world's top contract mobile phone maker, and Foxconn Technology Co which makes casings.
Over the past two years, there has been a spate of suicides at Foxconn's sprawling plants where products by Microsoft and Nintendo are also made.
Apple and Foxconn agreed earlier this year to improve conditions for workers assembling Apple products.
Despite Hon Hai's weak first-quarter showing, Gou said he expected the group to be able to reach its revenue growth target of 10 percent this year.