IT Blogwatch: BYOD and shiny toys

Apple 'offended' by BBC -- 'Panorama' says Cook's co. routinely breaks promises

On publicly-funded, prime-time TV, BBC Panorama says Apple fails at Chinese worker rights

apple bbc panorama

More bad PR for Apple. Despite its promises of workers' rights and ethical sourcing of minerals, an undercover BBC investigation shows widespread 'niceness' failures in the supply chains for toys such as the iPhone 6.

Panorama, "the world's longest running investigative TV show," says Apple is breaking its ethical promises. Yes, other vendors use similar supply chains, but it's Apple that crows about how clean its hands are. Not clean enough, argues the BBC report.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers debate the pros and cons.

curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.


Richard Bilton led the BBC Panorama investigation:

Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories that make Apple products...showed Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken. ... Standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached.

Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories...work[ing] 18 days in a row...longest shift was 16 hours. ... The poor conditions in Chinese factories were highlighted in 2010 when 14 workers killed themselves at Apple's biggest supplier. [So] Apple published a set of standards spelling out how factory workers should be treated [but we] found that these standards were routinely breached.

Apple declined to be interviewed...but said in a statement: "We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple. ... We see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done." ... Pegatron said it was carefully investigating Panorama's claims and would take all necessary action.

Apple says it is dedicated to the ethical sourcing of minerals, but [we] found evidence that tin from illegal mines could be entering its supply chain. [We] found children digging tin ore out by hand in extremely dangerous conditions. ... Apple says it is a complex situation...with tens of thousands of miners selling tin through many [intermediaries].  MORE


And Jesse Hollington summarizes:

[The BBC] found standards being breached at Pegatron factories on everything from workers’ hours, to dormitories, to juvenile workers — all areas in which Apple had promised sweeping improvements.

Panorama also followed Apple’s supply chain down to the Indonesian island of Bangka, and found...tin from illegal mines could be entering Apple’s supply chain, despite the company’s dedication to ethical sourcing. ... Reporters also found children digging tin ore...by hand under extremely dangerous conditions.  MORE


Ewan Spence watched the program[me]:

The BBC’s long-running investigations program Panorama turned its focus onto Apple this evening. ... Bilton spent an hour looking at Apple’s supply chain [and] workers’ conditions.

Phrases such as the ‘Cult of Mac’ arrived within minutes of the program starting, and Apple’s strong performance...was used to put Cupertino on a pedestal. And then the investigation brought forward a number of allegations to knock Apple off that pedestal. ... What is of interest is the singular focus on Apple, and judging the workers’ conditions using Western standards...it seems unfair to single out one manufacturer for the alleged sins of an industry.

And there are no simple answers. Complicated macro-economic and social issues do not make exciting and accessible [TV]. ... No solitary manufacturer can walk into the supply chain and demand working conditions far in advance of the prevalent conditions of the country. ... Is it even the place of...Apple to...chang[e] the entire social framework of these countries?  MORE


...as did Adrian Kingsley-Hughes:

Filming on an iPhone 6 production line [the BBC] claimed that Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken.

Apple...said it strongly disagreed with the conclusions. ... Apple also said that it was a common practice for workers to take naps during break times.  MORE


But why pick on Apple? Clint Eastman cuts to the chase:

For everyone saying "It’s not just Apple", if you watch the program you will see that [the BBC] say that all the way through. The point is...Apple claim to have fixed the problems (which they haven’t) and that they are treating employees better than everyone else (which they don’t).

Apple...profits from these workers misery. An iPhone costs about $5 to make...yet are sold for up to $900. They have $159 billion in the bank yet the people that make the product...have no time off, and are treated like ****.

It’s disgusting.  MORE


Update 1: Tim Cook and his SVP of operations, Jeff Williams, take offense:

Apple is dedicated to the advancement of human rights and equality. ... We are honest about the challenges we face. ... Tim and I were deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain or mislead our customers.

Tens of thousands of artisanal miners are selling tin through many middlemen to the smelters who supply to component suppliers who sell to the world...there is widespread corruption in the undeveloped supply chain...we are appalled by what’s going on [so] we chose...to stay engaged and try to drive a collective solution.

Panorama also made claims about our commitment to working conditions in our factories. ... More than 1400...Apple [workers] are stationed in China to manage our manufacturing operations. ... We also have a team of experts dedicated solely to driving compliance. [The] report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions. ... Nothing could be further from the truth.  MORE


Update 2: Aunty BBC #hitsback:

Apple has made a series of promises about how the workers in its supply chain should be treated.

China Labour Watch say Apple must know about the problems.

Inside the factories, there was a culture of intimidation.

Apple’s exhausted workforce stood out during filming.

Ralph Nader says the “conditions of work are totally and physically intolerable.”

The boss at an Apple supplier admits smelters can’t distinguish between legal and illegal tin.

Apple did admit getting tin from Bangka but only after 18 MONTHS of [FOE] pressure.

[Panorama] stands by its journalism.  MORE


BBC: Apple accused of failing to protect workers


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