Business Insider: Foxconn CEO: ‘Managing one million animals gives me a headache’

This won't do much to calm concerns about how the folks who make iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets are treated.

According to WantChinaTimes, Terry Gou, the head of Hon Hai (Foxconn), the largest contract manufacturer in the world, had this to say at a recent meeting with his senior managers:

"Hon Hai has a workforce of over one million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache," said Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou at a recent year-end party, adding that he wants to learn from Chin Shih-chien, director of Taipei Zoo, regarding how animals should be managed.

As WantChinaTimes put it, Gou "could have chosen his words more carefully." But Gou had indeed invited the zoo director to speak to Hon Hai's top managers in the hope that the zoo-keeper's advice would help them do their jobs better:

As Chin lectured on the stage, sharing his experience with the audience on how to manage different animals according to their individual temperaments, Gou listened carefully and asked Chin to put himself in his place as the chairman of Hon Hai, to the amusement of the 12 general managers of the group present.

Recent publicity about the working conditions of Foxconn employees has put the question of how Apple and other electronics supply-chain employees are treated back in the limelight.

Everyone loves their iPhones and iPads. Everyone loves the prices of their iPhones and iPads. And everyone loves Apple's super-high profit margins. But the fact remains that these prices and product margins are only possible because iPhones and iPads are built using labor practices that would be illegal in the United States.

This is a complex issue, with no simple answers, and Apple obviously isn't the only company that takes advantage of it. But the head of Apple's biggest contract manufacturer describing his employees as animals won't help much.

Henry Blodget is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider.

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