Apple ‘deeply offended’ by BBC documentary on its suppliers exploiting children

Apple ‘deeply offended’ by BBC documentary on its suppliers exploiting children

Cook in January 2009 after the Macworld Expo, via WikiMedia Commons.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Friday he is “deeply offended” by allegations that his company turns a blind eye to the mistreatment of workers, particularly children, in factories and mines from where it buys its supplies, The Telegraph reports.

He was referring to BBC's "Panorama" show, which aired the documentary "Apple's Broken Promises" on Thursday night, exposing poor working conditions in factories making Apple products in China.

The piece made two core claims. One, that Apple sources the tin for its iPhones from mud pits in Indonesia where children work, risking frequent mudslides that frequently claim lives. The second one, that working conditions inside the firm Chinese iPhone factories are so exhausting that employees frequently crash on the factory line.

In an email to around 5,000 staff across the UK, published by The Telegraph, Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams said both himself and the chief executive 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."

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

For its documentary, the BBC sent three teams of undercover reporters into various Chinese factories and raw-materials suppliers.

While it is not clear which specific factories the BBC investigated, the British broadcaster alleged that workers fell asleep during 12 to 16 hour shifts on the iPhone 6 production line. It also said they were made to work 18 days in a row.

Williams countered that Apple has tracked the weekly hours of over one million workers within its supply chain. He also said the company’s suppliers have achieved an average of 93% with the 60-hour workweek limit this year.

Apple employs around 1,400 manufacturing workers in China.

READ ALSO: Most US companies ‘unsure’ of whether they use conflict minerals in their products

How many slaves work for you?

Apple, which promotes ethically sourced minerals, is not the only company that has faced accusations of using ignoring working conditions imposed by its suppliers and using “conflict minerals”— those mined in locations of armed conflict and human rights abuses.

In an effort to raise consumer awareness on the issue, Made In A Free World and the U.S. State Department launched earlier this year an interactive website that reveals how you personally contribute to the tragic phenomenon.

Conflict minerals—mainly tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold—are used in a wide range of components across the electronics supply chain.

Watch below BBC’s Panorama – Apple's Broken Promises: