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Apple ‘deeply offended’ at worker’s rights accusations



Apple has hit back at accusations that it’s failed to protect the rights of workers in its international supply chain.

Jeff Williams, SVP of Operations, said he and Tim Cook are ‘deeply offended’ by suggestion that the firm has not met its obligation to the workforce.

Last night, BBC Panorama aired an investigative broadcast probing into Apple supply chain factories, uncovering a host of worker’s rights issues at the facilities.

The report also revealed issues outside of factory grounds, including poor working conditions at Indonesian tin mines that supply to the Cupertino, California-based company.

As a result, Williams penned a letter to the entire UK workforce, obtained by The Telegraph, explaining why he thinks the report was unfair and misleading.

I’d like to give you facts and perspective, all of which we shared with the BBC in advance, but were clearly missing from their program,” wrote the SVP.

Regarding the claims that Apple was facilitating terrible working conditions, in Indonesia, Williams responded with the following:

“Apple has publicly stated that tin from Indonesia ends up in our products, and some of that tin likely comes from illegal mines.”

“We spearheaded the creation of an Indonesian Tin Working Group with other technology companies. Apple is pushing to find and implement a system that holds smelters accountable so we can influence artisanal mining in Indonesia.”

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The letter continued: “Panorama also made claims about our commitment to working conditions in our factories.”

“We know of no other company doing as much as Apple does to ensure fair and safe working conditions, to discover and investigate problems, to fix and follow through when issues arise, and to provide transparency into the operations of our suppliers.”

Williams closed by saying: “I will not dive into every issue raised by Panorama in this note, but you can rest assured that we take all allegations seriously, and we investigate every claim.”

“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.”


December 19, 2014, 4:56 pm

"Apple is pushing to find and implement a system that holds smelters accountable" and until then they will continue to take advantage of the profit margins associated with using illegal tin.
From what Panorama reported concerning the factory conditions I can testify first hand that many companies utilising developing countries for cheap labour are providing much fairer working conditions for their staff than Apple*. It's quite simple really - give them the same rights you would expect. Apply the same laws and practices that you would see in a British or American factory.

*Admittedly Apple mainly utilise third-party factories, not their own. But if they didn't have any control over it then they shouldn't have been so public about their 'commitment'.
M&S are an excellent example of how to do this correctly. If you don't conform they'll use a different factory. Problem is for Apple that they want to produce so much stock at such a profit that only certain supply chains will suffice. If they were less concerned about scraping every penny from an iPhone sold they could easily achieve what they said they would.

Prem Desai

December 20, 2014, 1:04 pm

Very contentious, but very real issue.

No point going after Apple - they're not unique.

If people really feel badly about this, they should stop buying products made in the far east - PERIOD.

Working conditions are just NOT the same as they are in the West.

Similarly, Apple (and other manufacturers) should stop playing the tick-box game and issuing statements that only look good on paper. If they really cared more about working conditions (and less about profit), they can issue an ultimatum to the factories to sort themselves out within 6 months or move production elsewhere.

And pigs will start flying everywhere .....!!!!

Don't even get me started on the governments of these countries - they have a H-U-G-E responsibility in this issue.

Jan Longworth

December 22, 2014, 8:18 am

Having viewed the BBC Panorama program it was obvious that Apple are more concerned with making extortionate profits than in improving conditions for the employees of the third world companies that produce their products. Apple are obviously not alone in pursuing profit at the expense of the workers who produce their products. I have no doubt that within a very short time period the Panorama exposure will be forgotten and nothing will change within Apples suppliers.
The only thing that will have any effect on Apple is if buyers were to shun their products but this is obviously not going to happen. The vast majority of technology is produced in Third World Countries with appalling worker conditions.

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