Apple has been accused again of allowing the factory workers who build its products in China to be mistreated. Apple executives went on the defensive immediately, saying they are “deeply offended” by the BBC’s allegations.
BBC probes Apple’s factories
The BBC’s Panorama conducted an investigation of Pegatron Corporation, sending undercover reporters into the Chinese supplier’s factories just outside of Shanghai. The reporters claim to have found that workers were being treated poorly and that Pegatron was breaching government standards on how many hours employees worked.
According to the BBC’s report, workers fell asleep while working 12 hours on building iPhone 6 smartphones. The TV network also alleged that employees were required to work 18 consecutive days without a day off even after they repeatedly requested a day off. Those requests were allegedly denied.
Apple responds to the BBC
The Telegraph reports that Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams said he and CEO Tim Cook are “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 that the BBC’s report suggested they aren’t doing anything to improve the working conditions at the factories of its suppliers, claiming “nothing could be further from the truth.”
The Apple executive said they had spoken with the BBC before the program aired but said the TV network omitted the “facts and perspective” they had shared from the program.
Apple claims to defend workers
Williams also said they had been tracking more than 1 million workers’ weekly hours and that Apple’s suppliers have an average of 93% compliance with the limit of 60 hours per week so far this year. He also said they could do better and that they will continue working to improve conditions at their suppliers’ factories.
He also said they don’t know of any other company doing as much as they are doing to make sure that the working conditions in their suppliers’ factories are “fair and safe” and to investigate any issues and fix them. About 1,400 people in China work to manufacture Apple’s products.
Other claims from the BBC
Panorama also said its reporters investigated a factory in Indonesia. The program claimed to have found children to be working in a factory where tin from illegal mines could be getting into Apple products through the supply chain.
Williams said they already revealed that tin from Indonesia does get into their products and that some of it probably comes from illegal mines. He also explained that they have two options. One is to ensure all of their tin comes from mines that are outside Indonesia but he said that wouldn’t improve the conditions for Indonesian workers. He said instead they decided “to stay engaged and try to drive a collective solution.”
Pegatron said in response to the BBC’s allegations that it is investigation and intends to take all of the actions it deems necessary to deal with them.