Responding to a recent and rather extensive report on the horrific working conditions at Foxconn in the New York Times, Apple's CEO Tim Cook came out strongly against it in a memo purportedly sent to the entire company. The article, at least in Apple's view, came to the conclusion that the iPad maker either knew about the abuses at these assembly plants in China and ignored them, or they simply didn’t care. Tim Cook takes exception to that, and recently sent out a company-wide memo. The company has not officially commented on the New York Times article.
Cook’s apparent memo can be read below:
"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/supplier responsibility.
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.
While Cook seems genuinely outraged by the assertion presented at length by the New York Times article, it's also hard to square his opinions up with the practice of using cheap labor to manufacture your products. And while Apple has been singled out, Foxconn makes devices for plenty of other countries. When someone makes 35 cents a day to work more than 12 hours at a shot, that can be considered the epitome of exploitation to enhance profits and production.