Apple CEO Tim Cook has hit back at allegations made in a New York Times report which implied a culture of indifference to worker’s conditions in China, stating in an email to employees that “any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us.”

The NYTimes report cited former Apple executives with knowledge of the supplier responsibility group, who were quoted as saying;

We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on. Why? Because the system works for us…Noncompliance is tolerated, as long as the suppliers promise to try harder next time. If we meant business, core violations would disappear.

The following email is Tim Cook’s response to the report, which was sent to all Apple employees.

Team,

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.

At the same time, no one has been more up front about the challenges we face. We are attacking problems aggressively with the help of the world’s foremost authorities on safety, the environment, and fair labor. It would be easy to look for problems in fewer places and report prettier results, but those would not be the actions of a leader.

Earlier this month we opened our supply chain for independent evaluations by the Fair Labor Association. Apple was in a unique position to lead the industry by taking this step, and we did it without hesitation. This will lead to more frequent and more transparent reporting on our supply chain, which we welcome. These are the kinds of actions our customers expect from Apple, and we will take more of them in the future.

We are focused on educating workers about their rights, so they are empowered to speak up when they see unsafe conditions or unfair treatment. As you know, more than a million people have been trained by our program.

We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues. What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain. On this you have my word. You can follow our progress at apple.com/supplierresponsibility.

To those within Apple who are tackling these issues every day, you have our thanks and admiration. Your work is significant and it is changing people’s lives. We are all proud to work alongside you.

Tim

4 COMMENTS

  1. “Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain.”
    Not enough. 
    “Earlier this month we opened our supply chain for independent evaluations by the Fair Labor Association.”
    Too late!
    “. What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain.”
    You already did, here comes the backlash. You have failed as human beings.

  2. Please see this great conversation on this topic on Google+ (my friends and I are in the discussion)
    https://plus.google.com/u/0/102554320821955003422/posts/XWoNcsfzZK1

  3. I am a loyal Apple product fan and have been ever since I owned my first laptop. I live in an Apple household and have enormous respect for your company and products.
    But this Chinese Workers’ Rights Violations issue is a serious issue, not only at Apple, but in every business around the world.

    If you really want to get next to the problem, you and the entire executive team at Apple, including the team that is responsible for design and manufacturing, need to fly to one of your plants and be fully trained to work in one of them.  You all should be on the production line for a month so that you can experience first hand what it is like to have one of these jobs.  Only then will you have a sense of what it means to be a factory worker.  Only then will you have some idea of what Worker’s Rights Violations means and what needs to be changed.  

    A committee, an outside evaluation company, is never going to tell you what you need to know.  Such a committee is only going to tell you what you want to hear. You need to remove the representatives and agents and get next to the workers yourselves.  Be as revolutionary about the manufacturing of your product as S. Jobs was about creating it in the first place.  Bring the two into harmony.

    This would be good for everyone.  Then bring Apple home to America and put Americans to work making your great products.  Now that would be revolutionary.

  4. The Chinese workers are not slave. They CHOSE to work there because the money is good. It is better than working at farms. I worked with Chinese Manufacturers too and when the workers hear there is OverTime, they go “Yeah!”. They want to earn as much as possible so that they can return to their villages and build a house etc.

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