Talking tech since 2003

One of the often ignored costs of our gadget loving society is the toll taken on the people tasked with production of our tech toys. While no tech company’s hands are truly clean when it comes to this, Apple usually gets hit hard by allegations of poor working conditions along its Asian supply chains, usually for no other reason than its position as a market leader. Such is the case with a recent BBC-made documentary called “Apple’s Broken Promises,” prompting a response from Apple CEO Tim Cook of having been “deeply offended.”

According to the BBC documentary, the findings of which have been detailed in a recently published report, workers in Pegatron factories that supply Apple with its products would routinely become exhausted after 12 hour shifts, sometimes falling asleep while actually working. Overtime was also allegedly foisted on workers, while it is supposed to be an optional choice for employees looking to make extra hours. Conditions in factory dorms, meanwhile, are cramped, and employees are said to be forced into mandatory – and unpaid – meetings before and after work hours.

The documentary also found ethics violations in Indonesia, from which Apple sources minerals used in its products. Some of these products, alleges the report, came from illegal mines that endanger workers’ lives and employ children.

Apple’s response to these allegations, of course, has been to lay blame at the BBC for painting an incomplete picture, not including Apple’s defense of some of these allegations. According to a report in the Telegraph, Apple’s senior VP of operations Jeff Williams emailed 5,000 employees in the UK to say that he and CEO 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.”

Added Williams:

“[The] report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.

We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.”

Moreover, Williams said that “facts and perspective” that Apple had provided to the BBC in response to their investigation were “clearly missing from their programme.”

[Sources: BBC, Telegraph]

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