Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou recently revealed that they intend to split the initial costs of improving factory working conditions with Apple following an extensive third-party audit of the facilities where iPads and iPhones are made.
We've discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength. I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs.
Gou didn't go into any further detail as to how much these improvements would cost or how much of it Apple would take care of, but it's certainly not uncommon for Apple to invest in Foxconn's facilities. One of the bigger changes at Foxconn facilities has been to dial back overtime hours, which is something not all employees are thrilled about, though Foxconn had promised that wages would go up to counterbalance the loss of hours.
Apple has been very proactive in supporting Foxconn with these changes, and they can't afford not to be; as the mobile industry leader, all eyes on on Apple to find and expose weaknesses, especially if it stands to put a dent in Apple's generally-outstanding public image. The fact is, brutal factory conditions are a natural part of the labor landscape in China, and from the sounds of things, Foxconn is one of the better places to work.
Does Apple deserve a pat on the back for pitching in to support its partner, or is it a responsibility that all smartphone manufacturers should take up?