Undercover documentary finds Apple suppliers in violation of labor agreement

The BBC is set to air an undercover investigation into Apple's supply chain with findings that there were multiple violations of Apple's promises to protect workers. Titled Apple's Broken Promises, BBC Panorama explored both the Pegatron manufacturing facility as well as a tin mine in Indonesia. Apple has responded to the BBC documentary stating that it has done a lot and will continue to do more to maintain worker safety.

At the Pegatron factory in China, BBC noted:

It found standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories.

Undercover reporters at the factory said:

Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the 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.

Apple responded by saying that it is working to make continuous improvements despite all the work that already has been done:

Apple declined to be interviewed for the programme, but said in a statement: "We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions. We work with suppliers to address shortfalls, and we see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done."

In Indonesia, BBC found:

It found children digging tin ore out by hand in extremely dangerous conditions - miners can be buried alive when the walls of sand or mud collapse.

Apple responded by saying it will continue to work in Indonesia to try to affect change, rather than shy away from tin mined in that country:

"The simplest course of action would be for Apple to unilaterally refuse any tin from Indonesian mines. That would be easy for us to do and would certainly shield us from criticism. But that would also be the lazy and cowardly path, since it would do nothing to improve the situation. We have chosen to stay engaged and attempt to drive changes on the ground."

Source: BBC

Chuong H Nguyen
  • Whats not said is these same suppliers work for HP, Dell, Google, LG, Sony, Lenovo Samsung, and YOU! Every time you buy that enthusiast motherboard from Amazon or Newegg that has the brand name Foxconn.. which supplies most of the motherboards in most systems in Best Buy.. All Apple's fault though.. yup.. sure is.. To truly stop it, don't buy ANY electronics.. ever.. period.. not a Vizio TV, not a Roku, or Amazon FireTV, .. nope.. cannot have those either.. oh.. that Kindle ?? yup, you guessed it! Not even that alarm clock on your night stand.. yup.. you guess it.. has TIN from that very mine.
  • Yes, others do it. That does not make Apple's role here any more savory. Sent from the iMore App
  • The difference being those others companies didn't flat out lie to the public when they said they were going to change things.
  • The difference being those other companies don't even try to change things.
  • What is worse, the company that doesn't attempt the try or the company that says they try but don't? They are all exploiting humans, but somehow people think Apple is the nicer of the exploiters.
  • Last time I checked, Nokia, for instance, mined their own metals, manufactured in their own facilities and employed people directly. Apple could do that too instead of having the Chinese do everything for them and hiding behind their suppliers' skirts. But that would cost more money for them. And if there is one thing Apple will not do in this world, it is spending more money on something than they can get away with.
  • the difference is that HP, Dell,Google,LG,Sony,Lenovo and samsung have not claimed to be doing anything about it over the last 2 years. Apple has said that they are doing more than anyone they know and yet this shit is still happening. If apple has no better response than we tried they kind of deserve a bad rep for this
  • The BBC are in no position to lecture anyone. Sent from the iMore App
  • A corporation screws people over. Shocker!
  • How does this fall on Apple? They can help influence how their contracted partners do business, but that doesn't mean they can enforce it. It's not their company to police or set policy. Sent from the iMore App
  • They could do that work themselves instead of outsourcing it, thus controlling the supply chain, like Nokia did. It is cheaper this way for Apple, of course.
  • I'm in the UK and I watched this programme last night, too many comments here from those who haven't.
    They were showing examples of where Apple have failed to meet standards and commitments that were set by, Apple.
    They pointed out that the whole electronics industry is at fault for their sourcing of tin, but Apple's own commitments to care for the environment and worker safety were not being met in Indonesia.
    In China, the staff at Pegatron were working excessive hours and were falling asleep on the production line. There were also examples of underage workers doing overtime, which contravened standards set by Apple. The safety training was only better than basic.
    It was stated that with $155bn in the bank, Apple has the resources to set and achieve a level for the whole industry, but that they are failing to meet their current standards. Sent from the iMore App
  • Completely agree. I caught this on the other night too and it took that point exactly.
    It's not necessarily "Apple bashing" but, as you said, pointing out that a company that expressly publicises it's commitment to the environment, the human experience and setting standards worldwide, it is not doing enough. I have Apple stuff and I have other stuff, but the point is that something needs to be done. I disagree with the sarcasm of the first post. Human rights are a huge issue and major brands that are looked up to need to set a standard by doing things themselves or refusing to work with those that aren't holding the highest standard. Yes this may change the bottom line, but a Apple has the space to maneuver.