Apple accused of employee mistreatment

A BBC Panorama investigation that went to air in the UK last December aired on ABC’s Four Corners last night, revealing hidden camera footage of Apple’s China factory workers being overworked under poor conditions.

“Employees are treated like they are prisoners,” the report reads.

“They are threatened and forced to sign work sheets that show them agreeing to long hours of overtime. Many fall asleep at the end of long shifts, making the work environment dangerous for themselves and others.”

Reporter Richard Bilton, who traveled to Indonesia to expose working conditions, said, “Shifts have overtime built in, so workers regularly do more than 60 hours a week.”

The hidden footage depicted workers sleeping on the job, clearly exhausted from what Four Corners presenter Kerry O’Brien described as “seriously draconian and, arguably, dangerous working conditions.”

Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams wrote a letter to Apple’s UK staff after the BBC Panorama report, saying that the accusations were “deeply offensive.”

“I want you to know that more than 1400 of your Apple coworkers are stationed in China to manage our manufacturing operations,” Williams wrote.

“They are in the factories constantly — talented engineers and managers who are also compassionate people, trained to speak up when they see safety risks or mistreatment.

“We also have a team of experts dedicated solely to driving compliance with our Supplier Code of Conduct across our vast supply chain.”

Last night’s Four Corners episode saw Apple once again respond, calling the report “irresponsible and misleading.”

“Additionally, it turns a blind eye to the many ways in which Apple protects workers’ rights, and the significant improvements we have made on behalf of millions of workers over the past decade,” Apple’s statement reads.

“We encourage ABC viewers to read the facts about Apple’s commitment to workers, how we promote responsibility in our supply chain and empower workers through free educational programs. The details are available at apple.com/supplierresponsibility.”

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