BBC Documentary Claims Apple Fails to Protect Chinese Factory Workers

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Apr 12, 2001
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Earlier this week, BBC One announced plans to air a documentary called Apple's Broken Promises, detailing the factory conditions of the overseas workers who are creating components and assembling the company's iPhones.

Apple's Broken Promises is set to air tonight, but ahead of the documentary's launch, BBC News has published a story outlining what they discovered when they visited Pegatron factories in China and mines in Indonesia.

During the visit, the BBC found that workers at Pegatron factories were forced to put in long hours assembling Apple devices, and that there were violations with ID cards, dormitories, work meetings, and juvenile workers.

Multiple reporters went undercover at the factory as part of the documentary, and one did not receive a day off after working 18 days in a row while another was exhausted by the long hours. There were also workers who were filmed falling asleep during 12-hour shifts.
One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off.

Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: "Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn't want to move.

"Even if I was hungry I wouldn't want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress."
Undercover reporters were forced to do overtime, which is supposed to be voluntary, and the housing conditions were less than desirable, with one reporter subjected to a dormitory where 12 workers shared a single room. Another reporter had to attend after work meetings off the clock, receiving no compensation.

In response to the BBC's allegations, Apple released a statement suggesting that it's doing more than any other company to improve working conditions for factory employees. The company also said it monitors working hours at Pegatron, with employees at the factory averaging 55 hours per week.
"We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.

"We work with suppliers to address shortfalls, and we see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done."
Apple also told the BBC that the overcrowding in the dormitory has been resolved, and that suppliers are required to retroactively pay workers if they have not received compensation for meetings.

The BBC's trip to Indonesia led the documentarians to allege that tin from illegal mines could be entering Apple's supply chain without its knowledge. Children were found digging tin ore in dangerous conditions, with the tin eventually being sold to a smelter that's on Apple's list of suppliers. Apple told the BBC that the situation in Indonesia is "complex" as thousands of miners sell tin through middle men.

Apple often finds itself in the spotlight over the conditions at the factories where its product components are produced, but over the last few years, the company has established a strict code of conduct for suppliers that prevents underage labor and provides safe, comfortable working and living conditions for workers.

Apple also maintains a Supplier Responsibility Team that performs regular audits to ensure compliance, but factory conditions continue to be an ongoing issue for Apple due to both the sheer number of suppliers the company works with and the fact that factories benefit from producing large quantities of product at a low cost.

The full documentary will be shown on BBC One on December 18 at 9:00 PM U.K. time, and it will be replayed later on BBC iPlayer.

Update: The BBC has added a video clip from the documentary.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: BBC Documentary Claims Apple Fails to Protect Chinese Factory Workers
 

Gav2k

macrumors G3
Jul 24, 2009
9,217
1,606
Yet they fail to report that these hard done by people are paid a fair wage by there countries going rate and there there by CHOICE. It's not forced labour!
 

Z400Racer37

macrumors 6502a
Feb 7, 2011
697
1,595
Shocker.

You know, I'd like to know how many people BBC has lifted our of a subsistence farming way of life?

Also, how many UNPAID interns helped put this crap together? Hypocrisy Much?

Oh, they're not gonna talk about that at all? Yeah, that's what I thought. :rolleyes:
 

macintologist

macrumors 6502
May 3, 2004
460
527
You want to be careful with journalism as a truth-seeking enterprise. Remember that the point of journalism is to sell a story, and stories don't go over well if they are nuanced, complicated and don't neatly fit into a pre-existing narrative. If they found video footage of employees being satisfied, they wouldn't include that in the documentary because it makes the story less compelling.

Beware of the narrative. The truth is complicated and messy. This documentary represents a slice of the truth, but it's not the whole truth.
 

jacobj

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2003
1,124
87
Jersey
Lets wait and see. As much as I love the beeb, panorama is prone to sensationalism. It is the bbc's tabloid, viewer stats seeker.
 

Zxxv

macrumors 68040
Nov 13, 2011
3,558
1,102
UK
Multiple reporters went undercover at the factory as part of the documentary, and one did not receive a day off after working 18 days in a row while another was exhausted by the long hours. There were also workers who were filmed falling asleep during 12-hour shifts.
Quote:
One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off.

Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: "Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn't want to move.

"Even if I was hungry I wouldn't want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress."
Undercover reporters were forced to do overtime, which is supposed to be voluntary, and the housing conditions were less than desirable, with one reporter subjected to a dormitory where 12 workers shared a single room. Another reporter had to attend after work meetings off the clock, receiving no compensation.
If I knew undercover reporters were in my factory I'd do the same to them.
 

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
7,872
479
In my imagination
I don't ask the folks at Apple Retail if they've gotten enough rest. I don't ensure the ARS employee's safety. That's the job of the employer.

I don't understand how it's Apple's or Dell's or HP's responsibility to ensure FOXCONN workers are getting enough rest.

Not trying to be an Apple apologist here, just saying that Apple and the rest may want to pull their business if they know something is up, but it's not their responsibility to make sure folks in another company aren't working themselves too hard.

There's a lot of fabrication in documentary story telling. The most recent one I can recall is 12 O' Clock Boys, which is total garbage.
 

sualpine

macrumors 6502
May 13, 2013
494
474
So instead of presenting these findings to Apple and actually trying to improve the situation, they are going to capitalize on it by making a "documentary" for more $$$? Disgusting.
 

hippo206

macrumors 6502
Apr 8, 2007
445
3
I employ people that work 30+ days straight and sometimes average over 70+ hours per week. I wish BBC would come and do a documentary here so that we could get more publicity.
 

8281

macrumors 6502
Dec 15, 2010
463
559
I sympathize with the workers and it's good to raise awareness, but to focus only on Apple is a little disingenuous. Every tech company probably sources some components from factories with questionable labor practices.

That said, maybe this will motivate other companies to hold their suppliers accountable.
 

sualpine

macrumors 6502
May 13, 2013
494
474
I employ people that work 30+ days straight and sometimes average over 70+ hours per week. I wish BBC would come and do a documentary here so that we could get more publicity.
And you're proud of this? Or lying?
 

rmatthewware

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2009
493
126
They make this about Apple because they know it will get attention. The fact that many other American companies use factories just like this in China barely receives a footnote. What they should investigate is what those other companies are doing to improve working conditions. Do they have the transparency Apple does in these matters? Have they made a big push to improve conditions?
 

Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
2,445
7,435
Silicon Valley, CA
So basically, they are blaming Apple for another company's treatment of employees? Shall America start lecturing the UK on the way they treat their citizens?
 

guzhogi

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,059
949
Wherever my feet take me…
A little curious why this isn't in PRSI.

I wonder if Apple is the only company that uses this supplier, or if there are others. If so, why target Apple? Because they're the biggest/most highly visible company?
 

kolax

macrumors G3
Mar 20, 2007
9,181
115
Yet they fail to report that these hard done by people are paid a fair wage by there countries going rate and there there by CHOICE. It's not forced labour!
The only real work they can get is hardly a choice. But it doesn't sound like you see the world for what it really is.
 

strayts

macrumors regular
Oct 5, 2011
100
114
Yet they fail to report that these hard done by people are paid a fair wage by there countries going rate and there there by CHOICE. It's not forced labour!
There are countless accounts that have shown it's common practice in China to withhold wages so that employees have no choice but to stay or lose weeks' worth of wages. There is no way that an ethical person could call that a fair choice.
 

thalazy

macrumors regular
Jul 6, 2012
143
12
In a van down by the river.
It's a job

If you don't like it leave. Go to whatever labor board they have and complain. They don't work for Apple they work for Foxconn and all blame should be on them, unless Foxconn or the documentary can produce evidence that Apple demands that the company force the workers to do all that the documentary shows. As long as Apple does what is required by law to do then they should not be held responsible for the actions of a company Apple uses to build products.
 

wigby

macrumors 68000
Jun 7, 2007
1,923
1,471
I don't ask the folks at Apple Retail if they've gotten enough rest. I don't ensure the ARS employee's safety. That's the job of the employer.

I don't understand how it's Apple's or Dell's or HP's responsibility to ensure FOXCONN workers are getting enough rest.

Not trying to be an Apple apologist here, just saying that Apple and the rest may want to pull their business if they know something is up, but it's not their responsibility to make sure folks in another company aren't working themselves too hard.

There's a lot of fabrication in documentary story telling. The most recent one I can recall is 12 O' Clock Boys, which is total garbage.
Apple doesn't own these factories but they do have close relationships with all these factories. They invest in their infrastructure, they train their employees and install machines to help build devices in these factories. That alone might not be enough to blame Apple but then Apple goes and responds to documentaries like this extolling their own safety and labor audits. They are holding themselves up as the model so they are now forced to live up to their own standards.

I think it's great because no other company could or wants to change Chinese workers' lives for the better if it's going to hurt their bottom line.

At this point, I believe Apple over any BBC documentary but I'll watch it if available.
 

EightBitJoe

macrumors member
Aug 11, 2014
83
45
You obviously don't know how the BBC is funded.
You can bet your bottom dollar/quid that BBC Worldwide will milk this in regions where the charter allows for commercial revenue. Auntie's hands are tied at home, but she's just as big a *not nice name for prostitute* everywhere else as the American networks.
 

KiwiAdventure

Suspended
Dec 7, 2010
607
304
New Zealand
Why is it Apple's fault, its like saying we are at fault if we buy a product from a company who doesn't look after their staff. How about Nike's child labour factories.

BBC is a joke
 

MisakixMikasa

macrumors 6502a
Aug 21, 2013
776
2
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
So basically, they are blaming Apple for another company's treatment of employees? Shall America start lecturing the UK on the way they treat their citizens?
No... American has zero right to lecture other countries about human rights. Americans can pretending their country is free and democratic, but the truth is more uglier.
 
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