Yesterday, New York Times in a lengthy article titled "iEconomy - In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad" a followup to their earlier article about "Why Apple's iPhone was made in China", attacked Apple for not doing enough to improve living conditions for workers at their suppliers factories.
The New York Times recounts an incident from May last year where an explosion in Foxconn's factory killed 2 workers.
The article goes on to quote a former Foxconn manager:
“Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost,” [..]
[..] Some former Apple executives say there is an unresolved tension within the company: executives want to improve conditions within factories, but that dedication falters when it conflicts with crucial supplier relationships or the fast delivery of new products.
Apple's CEO Tim Cook responded to the report with an internal email to Apple employees:
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.
You can read the entire email from Tim Cook by heading over to 9 to 5 Mac.
Earlier in the month, Apple had published their yearly Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, which details the efforts they make in improving worker and factory conditions as well as environmental standards compliance.