Apple has issued official statements addressing the recent investigative report by BBC’s Panorama program which documented various instances where suppliers of Apple products violated company’s own standards. Senior Apple executive Jeff Williams said that he and Apple chief executive 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”.
Earlier this week, BBC’s Panorama program ran a documentary in which it reported problems at Pegatron factories outside Shanghai and life threatening issues at Indonesian tin mining operations. The publication found Pegatron, an Apple supply chain guilty of overcrowded dormitories, involuntary overtime, child laborers, and excessively long work weeks. The workers at the factory were shown to be so exhausted that they would often fall asleep during their shift hours. The program also showed a mining operation in Indonesia, where children digging the hole were putting their life at risk.
In a 5,000-word internal memo, Williams has tackled all such claims and maintained the company’s stance on the matter. The memo, obtained by The Telegraph, states that Apple has never claimed perfect adherence to its supplier policies. Furthermore, it reads that the company has never denied that some of the tin it receives for production are obtained from illegal sources. Citing other sources for the tin, the company says the only reason why it continues to take the tin from Indonesian chain is that it wants to improve the working conditions at the local place. If Apple cancels its contract, the entire workforce will become jobless. “Sometimes critics point to the discovery of problems as evidence that the process isn’t working,” the memo read.
Regarding the factory conditions at Pegatron’s facilities, the company says that the problems the BBC program has identified doesn’t concern Apple’s practices as it too is only trying to improve the supplier facility conditions. “The reality is that we find violations in every audit we have ever performed, no matter how sophisticated the company we’re auditing. We find problems, we drive improvement, and then we raise the bar.” While it doesn’t match with standards at Apple’s North American counterparts, every kind of relative “improvement” is a plus. “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,” Apple said.