Apple Isn’t the Only One to Blame for Smartphone Labor Abuses

Marcus Wohlsen | WIRED | December 19, 2014

Apple is an easy target and, in a way, the most deserving. As the most valuable company in the world, it deserves exceptional scrutiny.

In that respect, a new investigation from the BBC provides a valuable service. In an exposé released Thursday, the BBC One show Panorama says it recently uncovered some appalling working conditions on an iPhone 6 production line. “Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai,” the BBC reported. “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.”

A BBC team also went to the Indonesian island of Bangka, where it found that Apple’s supply chain picked up tin from small, dangerous mines where child labor is common. (Apple told the BBC it doesn’t refuse Indonesian tin because it would then lose its leverage to work toward improving conditions there: “We have chosen to stay engaged and attempt to drive changes on the ground.”)  But while abuses among Apple suppliers understandably command the most attention, to focus on Apple alone frames the problem too narrowly...