Having the BBC make its Panorama program all about Apple is tabloid sensationalism, and it sends out completely the wrong message.
It’s saying to companies who attempt, in however ineffectual a way, to do the right thing: “stick your head above the parapet, and we’ll monitor you twice as hard as all of your competitors, even though they are engaged in exactly the same practices”.
The exploitation of labour in poorer countries is a massive problem, but it’s also what the current free trade, free market economies of the richer countries are largely based on.
Our cheap consumer goods don’t appear like magic from nowhere. These things only cost what they do because the people who make them were paid a pittance to work too long in dangerous conditions, and the materials they were made of were sourced in a similarly dubious way.
I’m not saying that it’s somehow easy for us as individual consumers to combat this, but it’s completely hypocritical for anyone who owns a computer, tv, mobile phone etc to single out individual companies without examining the conditions in which their own possesions were produced.
The way to solve this problem is to regulate. We need to raise the burden of proof on manufacturers and sellers that the wares they are peddling have been produced ethically and sustainably. We then need to make it illegal to import and sell things that don’t meet the standard.
That is something that can only be done by governments, and it can only be done if the political will is there to do it.
Which comes back to voters.
Which means you.