Apple 'deeply offended' by BBC investigation

Apple ‘deeply offended’ by BBC investigation


Richard Bilton reports from Shanghai: ”An exhausted workforce” Apple has said it is “deeply offended” by a BBC investigation into
conditions for workers involved in manufacturing its devices.Rules on workers’ hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were routinely breached, the Panorama programme witnessed.In a staff email, senior Apple executive Jeff Williams said he knew of no other company doing as much as Apple to improve conditions.But he added: “We can still do better.”Panorama’s editor Ceri Thomas said he stood by the programme’s journalism.He said the team had found an exhausted workforce making Apple products in China, as well as children working in extremely dangerous tin mines in Bangka, Indonesia.”While Apple did confirm earlier this year that it gets tin from Bangka, it had never been confirmed whether illegal tin was entering their supply chain,” he said.”We got the first evidence of this on our trip.”We told Apple what we had found almost two months ago. Although Apple was happy to give us a non-attributable briefing, we were disappointed that the company wasn’t prepared to explain its position on camera.”Mr Williams’ email, published in full by The Telegraph (and reproduced below), was sent to around 5,000 Apple staff in the UK.”Panorama’s report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions,” he wrote.”Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.”He said he wanted the email to offer “facts and perspective, all of which we shared with the BBC in advance, but were clearly missing from their programme”.He wrote that he and Apple chief executive Tim Cook were “deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain or mislead our customers in any way”.He added: “We are honest about the challenges we face and we work hard
to make sure that people who make our products are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”Apple had declined to be interviewed for the programme. ‘Appalled’The email goes on to outline some of the efforts Apple has made to improve working conditions in its various factories across China.  The Panorama film showed exhausted workers falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off.Mr Williams said Apple had undertaken an audit of working hours.
Panorama secret filming Secret filming showed exhausted workers falling asleep while at their stations “Several years ago, the vast majority of workers in our supply chain worked in excess of 60 hours, and 70+ hour work-weeks were typical.”After years of slow progress and industry excuses, Apple decided to attack the problem by tracking the weekly hours of over one million workers, driving corrective actions with our suppliers and publishing the results on our website monthly – something no other company had
ever done.”This year, our suppliers have achieved an average of 93% compliance with our 60-hour limit.”It also explained how the firm supports moves to address the issue of illegal mining in countries such as Indonesia.In the Panorama programme, children were seen mining for the tin typically used in devices such as smartphones and tablets.The process can be extremely dangerous – miners can be buried alive when the walls of sand or mud collapse.The programme spoke to 12-year-old Rianto who was working with his father at the bottom of a 70ft cliff of sand.He said: “I worry about landslides. The earth slipping from up there to the bottom. It could happen.”  In the Apple staff email, Mr Williams said: “Our team visited the same parts of Indonesia visited by the BBC, and of course we are appalled by what’s going on there.”We spearheaded the creation of an Indonesian Tin Working Group with other technology companies.”Apple is pushing to find and implement a system that holds smelters accountable so we can influence artisanal mining in Indonesia.”  He concluded: “We know there are a lot of issues out there, and our work is never done.”We will not rest until every person in our supply chain is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.” -BBC


Comments are closed.