Apple has made the news quite a lot lately with rumors surrounding the conditions of the factories producing their products. We want to take a look at the response from petitioners who are demanding that Apple address these concerns to produce an ethical iPhone.
Growing Concerns about the Conditions of Apple Factories
In the past year or so, numerous headlines have targeted the working conditions of Apple employees overseas. The growing concerns focus on the conditions of factories that are sourced to produce Apple electronic products and product elements. The company responsible for a large portion of Apple products is Foxconn, a company that has also been in the news quite a lot recently. Unfortunately for Apple, Foxconn hasn’t made the news for any positive aspects, rather for the rumored mistreatment of employees and the going against ethical labor regulations.
Mounting Concerns on Working Conditions
Apple suppliers first made news headlines two years ago when the Wintek Company utilized a toxic chemical composition to clean the screens of the iPhones they were producing. The n-hexane resulted in one hundred and thirty-seven workers in the eastern China Company becoming ill or injured. Wintek isn’t the only violating company to make the news though, just last year another iPad manufacturer made the news when four workers were killed in two explosions. These companies don’t seem to measure up to the major violations noted in current supplier, Foxconn though.
The New York Times Covers Foxconn Conditions
Foxconn has been the focus of most of the scrutiny in recent news though. Foxconn, based out of Taiwan employs around 1.2 million workers in mainland China received a lot of press when it came out that in the past two years eighteen of their employees have committed suicide. These suicides seem to only be the tip of the iceberg however, when the New York Times ran a recent piece surrounding the working conditions of workers. According to the piece workers are being forced to work twenty people in a single three room apartment. Such crowded conditions lead to danger when disputes arise such as the latest dispute over paychecks that put a number of workers in danger.
Apple Audits Revealed More Violations
Apple regularly audits its supply factories including those owned by Foxconn, but these audits have stirred up a number of other violations. Included in the violations that turned up in previous audits of Foxconn’s factories include the employment of underage workers, the exposure of workers to toxic chemicals and paying workers significantly less than minimum wage. According to Apple however, all of these violations were addressed when Apple gave Foxconn warnings and demanded that these situations be rectified. This warning, however, isn’t enough for a number of petitioners.
Petitioners Argue For an Ethical iPhone
Change.org, an online website aimed at making a difference by eliciting the petitioning of major concerns throughout the world, became the breeding place for a new petition. The new petition is aimed at demanding an ethical iPhone, one that does not involve the abuse of workers during production. The petition titled “Apple: Protect Workers Making iPhones in Chinese Factories” has so far gained some 168,747 signatures out of the desired 200,000 signatures. The petition requests that Apple demand a worker protection strategy for new product releases. The reason the petition targets this particular point during production is because this is when the most injuries tend to occur. The rush for producing enough new products to meet the market demand is often what causes a spike in injuries. It is the belief of those that have signed the petition so far that Apple should make an effort to protect their workers as they progress through this initial phase. In addition to creating this new strategy, the petitioners are also asking that the findings of the Fair Labor Association be published. Since the release of the most recent labor violations, Apple has announced that the Fair Labor Association will be playing a significant role in monitoring suppliers. While petitioners agree that this is a great step, they also ask that the findings of the Fair Labor Associations monitoring be published including the name of violators and the specific violations made. It is the hope that the publishing of violations will shame these suppliers in to adhering to fair labor practices.
A Second Petition for an Ethical iPhone
The petition of Change.org is not the only petition floating around however, a second petition published on the Sum of Us website specifically targets the ethical production of the iPhone 5. This petition has so far garnered over 43,000 signatures in an effort to improve the working conditions and adherence to labor laws by factories involved in the Apple technology production.
The Impact of the Petition for the Ethical iPhone
Apple has already indicated that the findings in their own audits and the headlines that have made recent news are of concern to them. In an attempt to address these concerns Apple has claimed that they will increase the number of audits conducted in their supplier factories and will be enforcing labor laws by following up on violations. Following the release of these petitions an Apple chief executive has made it known that Apple cares about each worker in their family and has already agreed to allow the non-profit Fair Labor Association to monitor suppliers. Whether or not Apple intends to follow through with the additional requests made by the petitions is unknown at this time. What would it mean for Apple to adhere to these new stipulations? In order to publish the results of all of their findings it may be in Apple’s best interest to stay in favor of the public, but it would also take a considerable amount of manpower and time. What would it mean if Apple did adhere to the new stipulations in the petitions? It would not only mean that Apple would be seen in a more positive light by consumers, it would also mean that one of the world’s biggest corporations would be setting a no-exceptions example for strict adherence to labor laws.
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