Apple CEO Tim Cook Responds to Reports of Worker Mistreatment

The New York Times ran a rather sobering piece on the general business surrounding the China-based manufacturing facilities employed by Apple and many other consumer electronic and computer companies.

The reality is that the working conditions experienced by those working at the Foxconn factories in China are to a different standard than what we are accustomed to in the western world.

The Times article put a spotlight on Apple and its iPad factories, and Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken exception to what's been reported, insisting that the company is putting forth a better effort than characterized. Check out Cook's letter (via 9to5Mac) to the Apple team below:

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 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

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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • stratplaya
    I wonder if other companies who have their stuff made in China (pretty much all of them) will respond in a similar manner?

  • dimar is changing people’s lives." Yes it did, to those workers that jumped from the roof.
  • memadmax
    This is why the WinTel platform will continue to be the mainstay of computing, simply because it is dynamic enough to purge any undesirable "problems"

    Apple will have problems with exclusivity the bigger it gets. Why? There is no easy way to describe it, but to use as an example is government: The larger, more complex, and rigid it is, the more inefficient it will get...

    Besides, the only reason why apple is alive today is because they managed to find a niche in the gadget market... to consider them a computer manufacture, is a joke, it's their secondary product now... They might as well just say they are a phone company............
  • Dear Tim Cook,

    You are a liar. If you cared that much, you'd have your stuff made in the US. K thx.
  • lumberjack86
    "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."

    Too bad in China where most of the harm is being done, educating yourself on your rights won't change the fact that the government doesn't care and you wont get anywhere except put in prison or be fired. It's typical of somebody in a position of power to make a broad statement about the problem without any real substance to shoot down the claims of mistreatment. Until things change i will believe the people on the ground before I believe somebody in a comfortable office chair in the U.S.
  • Seriously, what the hack has Apple to do with employees of other companies? What are people shooting to Apple when the local government does not care? The answer is simple - because Apple is successful! So this all is either sh*tty try to increase read stats (not by TomsHw, but original issuer) or envy feelings to Apple's earnings - or simply both.
    Thats my opinion - not going to force anybody to agree or disagree.
  • MKBL
    As long as the most consumers and analysts are concerned on cost first and foremost, abusing cheap labors will remain rampant. Apple, Samsung, Sony, WD, LG, and the most electronics/computer hardware companies face the same challenge. It's like typical game theory situation. Unless you are sure other competitors will comply with the same rigorous standard, you dare not even try.

    I don't condone the practice, but simply want to point out why they let their supply chain abuse labors. It's not because they are evil, but because they are compelled, and believe they are doing their best to fulfill their duty: to maximize profit for stakeholders. This is the capitalism of modern day.
  • JeanLuc
    Whlist Apple are still enjoying the fruits of abused labour (bear in mind that made $13 in the last quarter alone) I feel Tim Cooks words are hallow and to have a pop at a dead man - Steve Jobs didn't seem to give a toss either that other humans were suffering when he was in-charge so long as Foxconn could still keep up the volume and reliability.

    The fault isn't just with Apple (or IBM or Sony etc) but us the consumers. If were being honest how many of us goes into a store picks up an MP3 player or new phone and asks the retailer how the well the people are treated who made these products? It seems for western consumers ignorance is indeed bliss just so long as we get cheap affordable electronics. I for one want to see tech companies adopt an equivalent of the fair trade stamp you see on foods so we can buy with confidence that people don't have to live in a room shared by 9 other people and that workers don't have to work in factory full of aluminium dust and aren't forced to work for 70 hours a week.
  • billybobser
    Jumped from roofs years earlier, Apple obviously improved conditions as they proceed to continue trying to jump.

    I smell corporate BS to save face. This guy should be well placed politician.
  • rohitbaran
    etteddyDear Tim Cook,You are a liar. If you cared that much, you'd have your stuff made in the US. K thx.Actually with the unbelievable profit margins they have, they might actually be still profitable (although to a lesser degree) even if they shift the manufacturing to US, or simply keep the manufacturing in China but provide workers with better work conditions and facilities.