Accuracy of Times report on Foxconn abuses challenged

The accuracy of parts of a recent article in the New York Times criticizing Apple for its complicity in the abuse of workers’ rights in China has been questioned.

BSR, an organisation formed 20 years ago to promote workers’ rights and corporate responsibility, said that the article contained a number of inaccuracies and published a letter on its website to set the record straight.

Aron Cramer, President and CEO of the BSR did praise the article for shining “a light on important supply chain issues that are a crucial part of the global economy” but said that misleading information had been used.

“Unfortunately, the article mistakenly attributes several quotes to an unnamed ‘BSR consultant,’ presenting a false impression that those views should be associated with BSR,” Cramer said.

An open letter written by the organization to the New York Times outlines several of the alleged inaccuracies.

“There are several areas where the text you provided us is inaccurate and therefore presents an inaccurate account of events you aim to describe. It is untrue that Apple has consistently disregarded advice that BSR has provided about problems related to working conditions in its supply chain,” the letter states.

“Your attribution of several opinions about Apple to BSR misstates the views of the organization. In several places, you attribute certain opinions about Apple to an unnamed “BSR consultant,” despite the fact that this consultant is unnamed, and are not affiliated with BSR. Associating these views with BSR is a serious misrepresentation, and should be changed.”

The article was the second from the same publication that examined Apple’s choice to establish its manufacturing base in the Far East rather than the US.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was furious about the nature of the second report, and insisted that he knew of “no one in our industry doing as much as we are” to address problems of working conditions.

“Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. Accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are,” Cook wrote in an email to Apple employees after reading the article.

The BSR’s Cramer pointed out that it wasn’t just Apple who should face scrutiny for poor working conditions in its supply chain. “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,” he said.

“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,” Cramer continued.

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