Apple CEO Tim Cook was said to be ‘deeply offended’ by claims about working practices in Apple’s supply chain made in a BBC documentary last week.
In a letter to Apple’s UK staff, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, Jeff Williams said, “Like many of you, Tim and I 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.”
Apple last year promised to tighten up its supply chain after it was revealed staff were being forced by partner firms to work overtime, with many falling asleep on the job. Some staff at Foxconn, Apple’s main assembly partner, took their own lives.
The new BBC documentary alleged overtime was still being widely enforced, with workers exhausted and stressed. It also claimed that illegally mined tin from Indonesia was finding its way into Apple’s supply chain, something which Apple has admitted does happen.
Williams’ letter detailed what Apple has already done to attempt to fix these issues and said that the facts he laid out had not been used by the BBC in its documentary.
Of the illegal tin ending up in Apple’s devices, Williams said, “Apple has two choices: We could make sure all of our suppliers buy tin from smelters outside of Indonesia, which would probably be the easiest thing for us to do and would certainly shield us from criticism. But it would be the lazy and cowardly path, because it would do nothing to improve the situation for Indonesian workers.”
The documentary has once again opened the debate about where mobile phone companies source their materials and the wider cost of the world’s rabid appetite for new technology at any cost.