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.