Cork North Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry said today that Apple need to be held to account for the treatment of workers who had their work contracts suddenly ended last week before being paid off with one weeks’ pay.
He said that some of the workers affected were people who had upended their lives and travelled halfway across the world to perform the contract and that they had been treated very shoddily by the corporation.
The workers in question were employed by a company called Globetech who were contracted by Apple to implement a quality control programme on Apple’s Siri voice assistant system.
The contract was suddenly terminated when a whistleblower contacted the British “Guardian” newspaper to raise concerns about the fact that human beings were listening to voice recordings without the consent of the persons whose voices had been recorded.
It is understood that approximately 300 workers were working on the programme for two separate companies one of which was Globetech.
The “Guardian” reported instances of accidental activation of the Siri system and workers in the programme listening to pseudonymised voice clips which contained confidential medical information, sex sessions and what seemed to be drug deals.
The Solidarity TD said: “It is not acceptable that workers can be made unemployed with no notice given and then paid off with just one weeks’ pay. Apple are responsible for the position these workers find themselves in and Apple cannot just turn their backs and ignore the workers’ plight.”
Deputy Barry said that Apple should be asked to clarify as to whether Globetech had been paid the full price of the terminated contract.
He said: “I would have thought that Apple would pay the full price of the contract given that they were the ones who terminated it. If Globetech were paid in full for the terminated contract then its workers should be paid in full up to their own original contract termination dates.”
He said that if Globetech haven’t been paid in full for the contract that Apple had a responsibility for the position which the stranded workers now find themselves in and should ensure that they are all paid in full up to their original contract termination dates.
Deputy Barry said that listening without consent was the responsibility of Apple not the workers and claimed that users of Apple products owe the Globetech workers a debt of gratitude given that the whistleblowers’ action has prompted pledges of future optout options for Apple customers from the controversial quality control programme.
Deputy Barry also raised questions about correspondence to workers from Globetech’s HR department which wrongly informed workers from outside the EU that they now had to leave the state by September 2.
He said: “Was this a legitimate error or were Globetech overly keen to get workers with intimate knowledge of a highly controversial programme out of the country quickly before they might meet with public representatives or members of the media?”.
Deputy Barry appealed to former Globetech workers who have concerns about wages, work permits or the controversial programme to contact him and guaranteed total confidentiality to any worker who does so.
He also indicated his intention to ask questions in the Dáil about the privacy issues and the workers’ rights issues raised by the case.
Mick Barry 087 2052722
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