FoxconnOn the heels of a ridiculous quarter, Apple is gearing up for what could potentially be its biggest ever product cycle. Slated for 2012 are new versions of the iPad and iPhone, along with the rumored arrival of an Apple HDTV and an Air-esque upgrade to the MacBook Pro line. But Apple has been at the center of heated criticism lately for other reasons, as dismal working conditions at the company’s overseas suppliers continue to be an issue.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference today, Apple CEO Tim Cook wasted no time in addressing the labor issue, stressing the company will make public monthly reports available on its website for 100 percent transparency.

The first thing that I want everyone to know — Apple takes working conditions very, very seriously, he said. And we have for a very long time. We care about every worker. I’ve spent a lot of time in factories personally and not just as an executive. I worked at a paper mill in Alabama and an aluminum plant in Virginia. So we are closely connected to production process and we understand these manufacturing issues on a very granular level. We believe that every worker has a right to a fair and safe work environment … and Apple’s manufacturing partners must live up to this to do business with us.

No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple, he continued. We are constrantly looking at the supply chain, examining it for problems and fixing. I am so incredibly proud of the work our teams are doing in this area. They focus on the most difiicult problems and they stay with them until they are fixed.

Apple also acknowledged concerns over child labor, which Cook said is a top priority to eliminate. “If we find a supplier that hires underage labor, that’s a firing offense.” Currently, the Fair Labor Association is doing an audit on Foxconn’s Shenzhen and Chengdu, China plants, which is one of Apple’s biggest suppliers of products like the iPhone and iPad.

We know that people have a very high expectation of Apple. We have an even higher expectation of ourselves. Our customer expect us to lead and we will continue to do so. We are blessed to have the smartest and most innovative people on earth. We put the same kind of effort and energy into supplier responsibility as we do with our new products.

That is what Apple is all about.

It certainly sounds like Apple is making every effort it can to address and better conditions in overseas factories. For a full transcript, hit the link to MacRumors.

[via MacRumors]