Apple not turning "blind eye" to supply chain problems: CEO

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:16pm EST

Workers stand at the gate of a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in Shenzhen, Guangdong province in this May 26, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

Workers stand at the gate of a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in Shenzhen, Guangdong province in this May 26, 2010 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has never turned "a blind eye" to the problems in its supply chain and any suggestion it does not care about the plight of workers is "patently false," Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an email to employees.

Cook was responding to a report in The New York Times about working conditions at Apple's main contract manufacturer, Foxconn, in China, an issue that for years has been a thorn in the company's side.

Apple responded in the past by launching independent audits and publishing the results. Earlier this month, Apple for the first time published a list of all its main suppliers.

"What we will not do - and never have done - is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain," he said in the email. "On this you have my word."

The email was first reported by the blog 9to5Mac and Reuters confirmed its authenticity.

"Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us," Cook said in the email.

Apple said earlier it agreed to let an outside agency monitor condition in the factories of its suppliers.

The company has said it made major efforts to improve and communicate its policies following high-profile labor problems at its foreign suppliers and manufacturers, including Foxconn.

The suicides at the plants associated with Apple cast a harsh spotlight on what critics dubbed a militaristic culture that pushed workers to the brink to meet unceasing demand for the company. In response, Apple stepped up the number of facilities it audits, to ensure they meet its code of conduct.

(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; editing by Andre Grenon)

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Comments (4)
andyg wrote:
He who pays the piper calls the tune. Forget about auditing sites , make it part of the contract. Foxconn will conform to whatever is in the contract , it could be pay the workers , regular rest breaks, good working conditions. Apple will only respond to a revenue hit.

Jan 27, 2012 5:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jscott418 wrote:
We all know other companies use Foxconn and other China manufactures that have a poor track record. I remember Nike having some issues and a couple clothing lines. Its not a uncommon thing. Has anything really changed? No. Why, because Americans really do not care how their products stay cheap and where they are made. If we want them we will buy them. How shallow are Americans? As shallow as their wallets are empty from paying Apple for all the stuff they buy. Unless companies see a big drop in sales and its because of people revolting against these poor labor practices. What company would do much about it? Especially since its happening in a Country like China that pretty much does not care about labor conditions.

Jan 27, 2012 5:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
NotaDoormat wrote:
If we are serious in our understanding that the use of forced labor is immoral, we must conscientiously boycott every corporation that profits from it. We must promote humane labor standards and enforceable sustainable environmental protections, too. Apple, Patagonia and Marchon are just the tip of this iceberg.

Jan 29, 2012 4:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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