Apple has a “Supplier Code of Conduct ” which states that “all workers in our supply chain deserve a fair and ethical workplace.” However, as Brian Merchant, author of “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone,” found out, their suppliers don’t always follow it.
In an article in the LA Times, he talks about what he saw when traveling to visit tin and other suppliers to the iPhone.
In Cerro Rico, Bolivia, where the tin is mined for the phone, Merchant found mines thick with “suffocating silica dust." The danger is very serious, as Merchant cites a BBC report which found that the average lifespan of a Cerro Rico miner is 40 years. Worse, a UNICEF report found that children as young as 6 years old have worked in its tunnels.
And in Indonesia’s Bangka Island, another source of tin for Apple, conditions there are just as bad. Merchant reports that miners there have been swallowed by landslides and collapsing pits; six died in one week in 2012.
“In 2014, after a BBC report about Bangka, Apple sent a task force accompanied by an environmental NGO to investigate. It’s unclear if conditions have changed much on Bangka, but according to its most recently published reports, Apple is still sourcing tin from the island’s mud pits.”
Merchant faults Apple for not doing enough. “Despite Apple’s not insignificant efforts, the richest, most influential player in the technology industry isn’t doing enough to protect the workers that provide the fundamental ingredients in its products.”
Read the complete article.