Steve Jobs claims: "Foxconn is not a sweatshop"

Apple boss Steve Jobs has insisted that a factory which makes iPods is "pretty nice".

Responding to questions about a spate of suicides at the Foxconn assembly plant, Jobs said, "This is very troubling to us. So we send over our own people and some outside folks as well, to look into the issue."

"Foxconn is not a sweatshop,” he said. "They’ve got restaurants and swimming pools… For a factory, it’s a pretty nice factory."

The factory, which recently announced that it would be installing giant nets to catch people flinging themselves out of the windows of its dormitory blocks, has been plagued by a spate of suicides, some of which have been linked to poor working conditions.

Others have pointed out that the company's policy of compensating the families of suicidal employees to the tune of ten year's worth of potential earnings could be a mitigating factor for migrant workers desperately trying to feed far-away families.

But Jobs has defended conditions at the plant saying, "We are all over this. We look at everything at these companies, and I can tell you a few things that we know: Foxconn is not a sweatshop.

"It's a factory, but they have restaurants and movie theatres. They've had some suicides and attempted suicides. They have 400,000 people there. The rate is under what the US rate is, but it's still troubling."

Foxconn - which despite some reports, and unlike many Chinese workplaces, doesn't charge workers for room and board - pays entry-level workers around £100 a month before overtime and bonuses.

The company recently announced that workers would get a 20 per cent pay rise, but has now bumped that figure to 30 per cent, barely a few days later.

Foxconn and Hai Hon shares both took a nosedive on the back of the announcement as shareholders panicked at having to give badly-paid drones a few extra yuan.