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Apple's Tim Cook expresses 'outrage' over NYT report on worker safety

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has responded to a New York Times report that alleged the company wasn't doing all it could to protect workers abroad, quoting several anonymous former Apple executives. Cook says the company cares more and does more than other companies to combat labor issues.

Apple Factory
Apple Factory

Yesterday, The New York Times published a comprehensive report including quotes from former and current Apple executives, alleging that Apple pushes its Chinese suppliers to cut corners at the expense of worker safety. Apple has a strong formal stance on supplier responsibility, and the NYT report doesn't dispute that, but suggested that despite Apple's regular audits, the company doesn't protect the labor force when it would interfere with profit.

Now, an internal email from Apple CEO Tim Cook has leaked to 9to5 Mac, partially disputing the NYT report.

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.

The chief executive primarily reiterates the company's formal stance and suggests that Apple does more than any other company in the industry to prevent dangerous working conditions at suppliers — "We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people," reads the memo — but also takes a critical element of the New York Times' report head-on. "What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain," he writes.

As with many stories like this, it's difficult to know who to trust. Apple's CEO obviously has a vested interest in maintaining the company's public image, and the former Apple executives cited by the Times may have their own reasons for speaking up. That said, as a whole, the Times' story paints a picture of the modern approach to global manufacturing that's very difficult to ignore. Read Cook's full letter at our source link, and the original report right here.