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Foxconn factory in China  (Source: and are the two groups leading the demonstrations

Social activist groups are protesting and partaking in demonstrations today at several Apple stores around the globe in order to challenge the treatment of employees at Apple's suppliers in China. and are two social activist groups offering demonstrations at key Apple stores around the world, such as New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Sydney, London and Bangalore. Both groups have offered online petitions against the abusive treatment of employees at Apple's suppliers in China, where was able to obtain 200,000 signatures and was able to obtain 50,000 signatures.'s petition specifically asks that Apple find a way to employ worker protection, especially around major product releases when workers are pushed to the max. The petition also requests that Apple be more open and frank about findings from the Fair Labor Association, which will be monitoring Apple's supplier's factories.'s petition simply asked for a more "ethical iPhone," where employees are treated like people instead of machines.

"This is a really huge step for us, in combining all of the voices we've collected from people all over the world asking Apple to clean up their supply chain," said Sarah Ryan,'s human rights organizer.

Last month, The New York Times shed light on the poor treatment of employees working for Apple suppliers in Asia like Foxconn and Wintek. The report, which is the second installment of the iEconomy series, details horrible working conditions workers must endure at Apple supplier factories in China. For instance, many employees work over 60 hours per week, at about 12 hours per day and six days per week. They put in obscene amounts of overtime as well. When the shift is over, employees are crammed into tiny dorms, where as many as 20 people are shoved into a three-bedroom apartment.

Right after The New York Times report was released, Apple CEO Tim Cook fired back about the claims of worker abuse in China, denying that Apple doesn't care about the people who work long hours to make the company's products on time.

"As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values," said Cook in an email to Apple employees. "Unfortunately, some people are questioning Apple's values today, and I'd like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It's not who we are."

Ryan expects about 40 people to join the demonstration in Manhattan alone today. The protest will begin at 10 a.m.

"What we want is for Apple to take their motto -- 'think differently' -- and extend that to the way they treat their workers," said Ryan. "We want them to be a leader in the tech world in not just treating their workers in the United States fairly, but also treat the ones abroad fairly."

Source: CNN

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RE: .
By drycrust3 on 2/9/2012 1:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
even Western countries while they were going through the industrial revolutions also had poor pay and working conditions for factory workers,

The reason conditions improved was because of unions, not because management somehow "became enlightened". Unions can force management to have realistic hours of work, to provide a safe environment to work in, to follow fair and correct procedures when hiring and firing, to pay penal rates when employees need to work overtime, to provide proper accommodation for employees that have to work away from home, and to provide a decent funeral for every employee killed on the job; and they can lobby for government inspectors to visit work places to ensure the law is kept regarding working conditions, and for the factories to be fined if the conditions are found to be substandard (which they obviously are at Foxconn and Wintek) and not fixed.
From personal observation I would say the working conditions at Foxconn and Wintek won't change until either:
1) Apple puts minimum working conditions for Foxconn and Wintek employees into their contracts, followed by penalty clauses if those working conditions aren't met, e.g. $1000 payment going to every employee who works more than 12 hours, $10,000 to all employees forced to live in a crowded apartment, $1M going to the family of any employee who dies, for the whole factory to close down so all employees can attend the funeral, and for the senior management to all say nice things about the employee at the funeral.
2) The Chinese government allows unions in the factories and gives them the right to strike.
When either of those happen, suddenly all those "It's too difficult ... we can't afford to do this ... we don't know why these things happen" excuses will disappear, the 30 hour shifts will end, the 20 employees living in an apartment will disappear. Sure, the cost of the end product will go up, but Apple relies on the high price of their product to give it an air of exclusiveness.

RE: .
By tayb on 2/9/2012 1:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think conditions improved in America because of Unions I think they improved because the government stepped in and started regulating away safety and wage concerns.

1. That is never Apple's responsibility and Foxconn would either simply say no or be the party paying for these failures.

2. The Chinese government can allow unions if it wants to and these conditions will not change. People apply for these jobs knowing the conditions they will be working because the alternative is worse. If every single currently employed individual went on strike it would be annoying for Foxconn but they would just terminate their employment and hire 100,000 new employees.

I do not think these conditions will EVER improve. We'll see advanced robotics removing the human element before we see a minimum wage and 8 hour factory work days in China.

RE: .
By tng on 2/9/2012 1:57:09 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think conditions improved in America because of Unions I think they improved because the government stepped in
He is correct, unions did reform labor. Government regulation came as a lobby effort of unions in these areas.

Now labor unions have been largely replaced by lawyers that will work pro-Bono for clients that feel they are not being treated fairly by an employer. The threat of class action lawsuits are now enough to keep most large employers in line with fair labor practices.

RE: .
By tayb on 2/9/2012 2:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
I think unions helped to get the attention of the government but without federal laws I don't much progress would have been made. I'm not a history major so I'm probably wrong.

RE: .
By drycrust3 on 2/9/2012 2:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
That is never Apple's responsibility and Foxconn would either simply say no or be the party paying for these failures.

Apple have said they care about the people being employed in Foxconn's factories. If they mean what they say, then they can put clauses into their contract with Foxconn to ensure the assembly line workers are treated correctly.
I agree with you that Apple shouldn't have to do this, but the simple fact is Foxconn aren't being a responsible employer. As such, Apple have three options: 1) adopt the "I see no evil" attitude and pretend they don't know about the poor working conditions (or pretend there is nothing they can do); 2) walk away from Foxconn and China and go somewhere where the local labour laws guarantee Apple's products are made by employees working in a good environment; 3) fix the problem.
To me, the third solution is the approach Apple should be adopting. Western companies should be setting the example of how employees should be treated in China. How can we claim to be better when we treat our Chinese employees the same or worse than their local companies?

RE: .
By tayb on 2/9/2012 2:22:34 PM , Rating: 2
I think you are grossly overestimating the amount of pull Apple has over labor conditions. Outside of pulling out of the factory and China entirely nothing you said is practical. I doubt that China nor Foxconn would allow labor policies to be dictated by a foreign customer.

We aren't treating these people badly. Foxconn is. They aren't Apple employees.

RE: .
By drycrust3 on 2/9/2012 5:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
Outside of pulling out of the factory and China entirely nothing you said is practical.

Having penalty clauses in contracts is entirely normal. For example, Apple will have quality control standards in their contract with Foxconn. No one says "Quality control standards aren't Apple's business" do they! No one says "It isn't practical for ALL iPads work when the new owner opens the box" do they? If you opened the box of a brand new iPad you wouldn't find a scratch on it or it not work would you? No! Why? Because Apple dictated quality control standards with PENALTY CLAUSES to Foxconn! Get it? Apple told Foxconn the quality standards or ELSE PAY US ... and low and behold iPads all work and are made without scratches.
The same applies with employee mistreatment. When Apple puts out tenders for the manufacture of iPads they could easily include the standards expected for employee treatment. The fact is they COULD do that and achieve those conditions. We know they COULD achieve them because Foxconn already achieves quality control standards, which are much harder to achieve than treating people right is.
As I said, if Foxconn was told they have to pay $1000 per hour to every employee that worked for more than 12 hours, then you can bet that not one employee would work more than 11:59 minutes.

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