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Apple "outraged" by New York Times Foxconn report

"Any suggestion that we don't care is false and offensive."

An email reportedly sent out to all Apple staff from CEO Tim Cook has condemned recent reports that the company is turning a blind eye to unacceptable working conditions at supply chain partners such as Foxconn.

The message, which found its way to 9to5Mac, rejects claims that Apple is sweeping employee mistreatment issues under the rug.

"We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain," it read.

"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."

Cook went on to insist that it inspects more and more factories every year to ensure they meet its code of conduct.

"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."

He pointed out that Apple has opened its supply chain for independent evaluation by the Fair Labor Association, and did so "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," he continued.

"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."

Yesterday's lengthy New York Times investigation featured a number of purported former Apple executives explaining why it is often easier to turn a blind eye to abuses at manufacturing plants such as Foxconn rather than attempt to make changes or switch suppliers.

The Chinese manufacturer has been at the centre of a number of recent controversies, including a report earlier this month that hundreds of staff working on the Xbox 360 assembly line had threatened mass suicide over pay issues.