Apple CEO Tim Cook ‘deeply offended’ by BBC factory conditions report

Apple iPad Air 2 Apple logo rear
Despite Apple’s efforts to improve conditions for workers at manufacturing plants in Asia where its iPhone and other products are assembled, it seems it still has much to do in order to get on top of the situation. An undercover BBC report filmed at Pegatron factories near Shanghai claims that a set of standards laid down by Apple several years ago in a bid to improve conditions are being breached at a number of sites.

Updated on 12-19-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added report from the Telegraph, which includes an email to employees from Apple’s Jeff Williams and Tim Cook.

“We will not rest until every person in our supply chain is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The Panorama documentary, which can be watched here if you’re in the UK, claims to show exhausted workers falling asleep during shifts, with one segment apparently showing an iPhone 6 testing area “with virtually no one awake.”

One undercover reporter claimed they were made to work 18 days in a row despite asking repeatedly for time off, while another said they had to work shifts of up to 16 hours, taking them past the 55-hour weekly maximum stipulated by Apple. Another reporter claimed they had to share a “cramped” dormitory room with 11 other workers.

The BBC’s investigation found some workers being made to attend unpaid meetings before and after regular working hours, and others being forced to do overtime when such work is supposed to be voluntary.

The BBC said Apple “strongly disagreed” with its findings, with the U.S. firm insisting that the dormitory overcrowding issue, for example, had now been sorted out. The iPhone and iPad maker declined to be interviewed for the documentary, but said in a statement it was “aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.”

It continued, “We work with suppliers to address shortfalls, and we see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done.”

The company said that while it wasn’t unusual for factory workers on its production lines to nap during breaks, it would be sure to look into the allegation that exhaustion is leading them to fall asleep during working hours.

pegatron factory 2014

Apple CEO Tim Cook ‘deeply offended’ by documentary

Shortly after news of the documentary broke, Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams sent an email to 5,000 UK employees to let them know the BBC investigation omitted key details and statements from Apple on the subject of factory conditions. The Telegraph picked up the email and provided the full text in an article on its website.

Williams wrote that said both himself 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.”

“Panorama’s report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions,” Williams added. “Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Williams also stated that Apple is aware that poor working conditions in factories and the use of illegally mined tin in its products still happen. He assured company employees that Apple doesn’t turn a blind eye to these situations and restated Apple’s commitment to improving working conditions along every part of its supply chain.

“We know there are a lot of issues out there, and our work is never done. We will not rest until every person in our supply chain is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve,” he wrote.

Pegatron responds

Pegatron, meanwhile, said it’s looking into the BBC’s claims and would act if it found that regulations are being broken at its factories. The manufacturer is under huge pressure to fulfill orders from Apple, but knows if factory workers are being mistreated its contract with the company could be in jeopardy.

In a statement the Taiwan-headquartered firm said proper working conditions were its “top priority,” adding, “We set very high standards, conduct rigorous training for managers and workers, and have external auditors regularly visiting our facilities to find areas for improvement.”

Apple has also worked to improve conditions at plants operated by Foxconn, another of its high-profile suppliers in the region. Several years ago there were regular reports of protests, riots and even suicides at its factories, though more recently the situation appears to have improved.

The Panorama team also traveled to Indonesia to look at other parts of Apple’s supply chain and found that “tin from illegal mines” could be ending up in its products. It also claims to have discovered children “digging tin ore out by hand” in dangerous conditions.

Apple described the situation in Indonesia as “complex” with tens of thousands of miners selling tin through multiple channels. It explained that while it would be easy for it to simply exit the Indonesian tin market, such a move would be “the lazy and cowardly path, since it would do nothing to improve the situation.” The company it has instead “chosen to stay engaged and attempt to drive changes on the ground.”

Of course, Apple isn’t the only tech firm to face scrutiny over working conditions at factories in its supply chain. Earlier this year Samsung was forced to suspend business with a supplier after a workers’ rights group said it’d found evidence of child labor at the site.

[Source: BBC]

Smart Home

Amazon workers listening to Alexa recordings isn’t a big deal. Here’s why

Thousands of Amazon workers are reportedly listening to recorded conversations between Alexa and voice assistant speaker owners. The idea that humans are listening to our conversations is an outrage. Or is it?
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker: Everything we know so far

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker's first teaser trailer and plot details have arrived. Here's everything we know about the movie before it premieres in December 2019.
Mobile

Spruce up your Lenovo smartphone with the best Moto Mods for the Moto Z-series

Moto Mods, the snap-on accessories compatible with Lenovo's Moto Z-series smartphones add a lot of value without adding a lot of bulk. Looking to try one out? Here are a few of our favorite Moto Mods.
Mobile

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL will be coming to the U.S. with T-Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Mobile

Keep your new iPad (2018) sparkling with the best screen protectors

Your iPad sports a stunning 9.7-inch screen and you'll want it to stay that way. The best iPad (2018) screen protectors guard against cracks, scratches, and even smudging from your fingers. Check out our top picks here.
Mobile

Intel gives up on 5G modems for smartphones, will focus on other devices

After a delay that saw Intel's manufacture of 5G modems pushed back to 2020, Intel has given up on the 5G modem business, and will focus its efforts elsewhere. But is something else to blame?
Mobile

The black satin Razer Phone 2 is now available for $500

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Mobile

The best LG G7 ThinQ cases will keep your phone looking new

The LG G7 ThinQ comes with a powerful processor, versatile cameras, and amazing sound. But a powerful phone still needs protection and you might want to change the style. Here are the best LG G7 ThinQ cases.
Mobile

Multiple phone leaks show May 21 is going to be a big day for Honor

Honor will launch at least one new smartphone on May 21, at an event taking place in London. Leaks have indicated the Honor 20 will take center stage, with a Lite version, and perhaps even another model also showing up on the day.
Mobile

Breaking news: Samsung responds to reported Galaxy Fold display issues

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Mobile

The Avalon V is Alcatel’s first Verizon-exclusive smartphone

Alcatel is has announced a new phone, the Avalon V -- but this budget device isn't what makes the announcement special. It's Alcatel's first phone on the Verizon network, and it's available now.