Apple CEO Tim Cook has responded angrily to allegations that the company knowingly used manufacturing partners guilty of labor abuses, telling staff that “we care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain” and calling the accusations “offensive.” Cook blasted the NY Times report in an internal email to Apple employees, spilled to 9to5Mac; “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us” the CEO wrote. “As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.”
The original report had consulted current and previous Apple executives, as well as sources at Chinese factories and the workers themselves, piecing together a picture of companies like Apple – though others, such as Samsung, got a passing mention – as juggling human rights for workers with the need to create timely, affordable products at the best possible rates. “An unresolved tension” inside Apple was cited, with high-level execs supposedly aware that production partners such as Foxconn were cutting corners in safety and working conditions, but made only passing attempts to address the problem as it would sap Apple’s device momentum.
The claims were followed by strong responses from Chinese factory workers themselves, some protesting Apple’s actions in the country, but others suggesting that the company was not alone in its priorities and, in some cases, was doing considerably better than other firms.
Apple has taken a vocal stance on employee rights in recent years, releasing a responsibility report detailing the investigations it had undertaken, and becoming the first tech firm to join the Fair Labor Association. “We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues” Cook warns. “What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain.”
“As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.
For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers’ manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am. For the people who aren’t as close to the supply chain, you have a right to know the facts.
Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people” Tim Cook, CEO Apple