Thursday, March 08, 2012

Watchdog group calls for Apple to prove new iPad made without illegal overtime

Apple has announced its new iPad, strangely dubbed "the new iPad," and in the wake of the announcement (or really, even before the announcement was made), the watchdog group has created a petition calls on Apple to prove the iPad HD was made without illegal overtime.

It will be hard to prove anything like that. Earlier, the group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior said that Foxconn hid underage employees during the inspects by the FLA. We would not be surprised to find that they would hide any illegal overtime, as well.

SumOfUs Executive Director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman said,

“The few months leading up to product launches are the worst time to be an Apple worker. Apple has a track record of putting its workers through grueling night shifts and dangerous levels of overtime to meet its artificial product launch deadlines. Do we really want to buy an iPad made under those conditions? Apple owes it to us to prove that this product was made ethically.

“As Apple customers, we have a right to know whether the new iPad was manufactured illegally and unethically. We hope as much as anyone that Apple has nothing to hide. If Apple releases genuine, original records that demonstrate that there has been no illegal overtime at iPad factories in the lead-up to the new product launch, then we will be the first to celebrate. But until Apple proves otherwise, we can only assume that they are bluffing about caring about workers’ health and safety -- and we’re calling that bluff.

“Consumers are waking up to the consequences of Apple’s greed. We don’t want products made this way. We can wait a few more weeks if it means that workers get to sleep and see their families.”

SumOfUs also reminds consumers in their email about the New York Times report that emphasized that it was more than just cheap labor that led Apple to use Chinese manufacturing. It was the ability of those workers to change course quickly.

That ability, though, comes at a human cost based on the report. It said, "When Apple redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, [...] A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames."

They made that sound heroic and something to be applauded but is it really? SumOfUs describes it as follows: "... workers were roused en masse in the middle of the night to revamp the entire design of the first iPhone just weeks before launch." Less heroic, more slave-like, in that terse description.

SumOfUs has created an online petition. Their goal is 25,000 signatures and they already have nearly 22,000. It specifically calls for clock-in and clock-out times which, since Apple's largest supplier, Foxconn, recently told the New York Times that its workers use computerized timecards, should be easy to supply.

That said, Foxconn workers surveyed by independent researchers from a coalition of Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwan universities reported an average of 83.2 hours of overtime a month, which is more than double China’s legal limit of 36 hours per month.

None of this should surprise anyone. In the West's push for cheap electronics to feed their technology frenzy, many consumers don't know what really goes on, or prefer to pretend they don't know.

SumOfUs produced an earlier petition with 130,000 signatures calling for an ethical iPhone.

No comments: