Apple Fires Back Against BBC Story Claiming Harsh Working Conditions in Supply Chain

Pegatron workers

Apple’s long-term supplier Pegatron is once again in the spotlight of the press: an undercover BBC Panorama investigation discovered that Apple has failed to fulfil its promises, because Pegatron workers’ rights are still violated day by day.

The undercover journalists have found that the standards for worker hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings, and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron facilities. Apple’s position: it strongly disagrees with BBC Panorama’s findings.

BBC reporters filmed exhausted workers falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts — which, by the way, Apple will investigate. An undercover reporter was forced to work 18 days in a row, despite asking for a day off.

Apple didn’t appear in the BBC programme but sent a statement to the news outlet saying: “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.”

The working conditions at Apple’s suppliers are always a hot topic, and they will make headlines for years to come until every single company participating in the supply chain finally complies with the standards imposed by the iPhone maker. Apple currently monitors more than a million workers.

Pegatron made headlines last year as the China Labour Watch found the company violating workers’ rights, and later that year a child worker died from pneumonia.

Panorama also travelled to the Indonesian island of Bangka, where Apple says it obtains minerals. The programme found evidence of illegal mines entering the supply chain and multiple irregularities.

Apple, on the other hand, says the Bangka situation is pretty complex, as tens of thousands of miners are selling tin through many middle men. But the company seems proud to be there, suggesting that leaving would be “the lazy and cowardly path, since it would do nothing to improve the situation.” Instead, the company has “chosen to stay engaged and attempt to drive changes on the ground.”

The “Apple’s Broken Promises” documentary will be aired on BBC One on December 18 at 9:00 p.m. (UK time). In case you miss it, you can watch it later on BBC iPlayer.