They said they said

The BBC’s Panorama said; Apple said. Panorama did an investigation of bad working conditions for people who make Apple products; Apple said it was “offended.”

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.”

Well let’s be real about this. Why does Apple get its products made in China in the first place? Because it’s cheaper. They can’t be ignorant of the logic of that.

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.

Those are some of the reasons outsourcing is popular. It’s cheaper, it’s less regulated, it’s faster.

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.

“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.”

But you outsource for a reason. It’s no good pretending you don’t.

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.”

Cheap tin. Cheap raw materials, cheap labor, long hours, crap safety regulations. These things aren’t accidental.




  1. Cassidy McJones says

    I’m offended that Apple had the gall to make such a shitbag statement like that. Offended, not surprised. Even taken at face value, what does the fact that Apple supposedly does more than any other company to improve working conditions have to do with the current violations the BBC found? Does Williams think violations of agreements and laws never happen? Shouldn’t Williams be grateful for the program uncovering these violations for them? I mean, Apple does have a dedicated team (teams) tracking the working conditions at their suppliers right? Right?

    It’s also good to remember that Apple is rightly targeted for these kinds of investigations because of its huge market influence but pretty much the entire tech hardware industry is complicit. I don’t know of any “green” or “fair trade” hardware/handset/tablet producer (although I’d love to be proven wrong).

  2. A Masked Avenger says

    That’s why I use Samsung. I mean Motorolla. I mean Nokia. I mean… you know, the one that doesn’t do that.

  3. lorn says

    Irony is that the savings from shifting production off-shore has never been studied deeply enough to confirm what has always been little more than a gut feeling. The few cursory studies show little difference in actual cost. Yes, you can hire Chinese workers cheaper, and there are few labor or environment regulations but the material and transportation cost are often higher. There is also the matter of state control. China makes it easy to invest in China but getting profits back out is not so quick, easy, or automatic, and, being a totalitarian state, China could take over industries and production at the drop of the proverbial hat.

    There are entirely credible report of certain industries starting production within the US and finding that there are savings.

  4. khms says

    “This year, our suppliers have achieved an average of 93% compliance with our 60-hour limit.”

    Even assuming there is no fraud involved, how is a 60 hour limit on factory
    work something to be proud of?!

    60 hour work weeks are something you ought to get a management-level salary
    for. Try about two thirds of that for something vaguely realistic (and still
    ought to be worth significantly more than minimum wage, not third-world
    starvation wages).

  5. Sili says

    Apple said it was “offended.”

    At least they cannot (yet) issue fatwas for insulting the prophet (pbuh) Jobs.

  6. Ysidro says


    AHAHAHAHAHAHA. At least it isn’t a factory job, but I work 52 hours a week and when it started it was often 64 hours with only a weekend off every couple weeks (Usually 19 or 21 days in a row). At $10-$15 range pay.

    At least I wasn’t cutting my hand off, but don’t be surprised to find American factories that do the same.

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