Accuracy Of NYT’s Report On Apple Factory Worker Abuse Is Under Fire

Accuracy Of NYT’s Report On Apple Factory Worker Abuse Is Under Fire

Tim Cook was outraged by a recent report from The New York Times that provided a detailed look at the poor working conditions for Chinese factory workers assembling our Apple gadgets. It seems he’s not the only one. The BSR, a leader in corporate responsibility which works with Apple to develop sustainable business strategies, has labeled the report “inaccurate” and “misleading,” and has requested that it is corrected by the NYT.

The BSR, established in 1992, “uses its expertise in environment, human rights, economic development, and governance and accountability to guide global companies toward creating a just and sustainable world.” Its CEO, Aron Cramer, wrote to the NYT on January 27 — a day after its report was published.

Cramer first praised the report for shining “a light on important supply chain issues that are a crucial part of the global economy.” Then he points out that the piece “mistakenly quotes” a BSR representative and focuses on Apple when the conditions in the global supply chain should be of “immense importance to all companies.”

This article shines a light on important supply chain issues that are a crucial part of the global economy—one of the sustainability challenges BSR has worked on with business and other stakeholders for 20 years. Unfortunately, the article mistakenly attributes several quotes to an unnamed “BSR consultant,” presenting a false impression that those views should be associated with BSR.

While the story focuses on Apple, the question of conditions in global supply chains is of immense importance to all companies, in all sectors. There is no doubt that, while more and more companies are committed to ensuring good working conditions in their supply chains, additional steps should be taken. The key to progress is a combination of renewed commitments by the private sector, better enforcement of laws by governments, collaboration between businesses and NGOs, and worker empowerment. Global companies who are active in this space know that long-term, sustainable change takes time and requires many players working together.

On the BSR website, where the letter was also published, Cramer brands the report “misleading” and calls for “several important inaccuracies” to be rectified.

The NYT’s report provided a chilling insight into the poor working conditions faced by thousands of Chinese workers who assemble the latest gadgets — not just for Apple, but for the likes of Dell, Sony, HP, and many, many more. Shortly after it was published on January 26, Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his frustrations in an email to Apple staff, in which he said the report was “patently false and offensive.”

Cook reassured Apple employees that the company has “made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers.”

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  • Slash_Cynic

    Uh, of course they’re doing to deny it.

  • FriarNurgle

    It’s China. Of course the working conditions are crappy. The working conditions were crappy in the US too during our industrial revolution. Given time they will get better or more likely the workers will be replaced with robots. 

  • Daniel Harris

    It was obviously an attack piece on a high profile company that is well known for garnering page views rather than an actual reasoned analysis of the situation.

  • Robert X

    Especially if it isn’t entirely true. Sure they would and should.

  • Al

    yes I’m absolutely sure that the entire story was just a big made up lie because the New York Times wanted to create a fictional story about poor working conditions in china. When in fact, factory workers over there work 8 hour days and drive BMW’s to work each day. I guess if you can’t handle the truth.. you call it a lie.

  • Brandon Dillon

    There’s a difference between calling it a lie and saying it’s exaggeration or false statements.

  • SandraM

    If the Chinese government doesn’t give a shit about its people, why should we? I mean, comon’.  If these factory workers weren’t working for Foxconn, they’d be in their rural villages doing bugger all.  It isn’t our job to make every country into a “little America”.  It’s a matter for the Chinese to sort out, or not, as they decide.

  • Daniel Harris

    Are you unfamiliar with the term “spin”? The article was clearly made with the idea of making Apple look as bad as possible rather than a neutral analysis of the Chinese labor situation. Why else was Apple singled out when all electronics manufacturers use cheap labor like this?

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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