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.
Change.org and SumOfUs.org 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 Change.org was able to obtain 200,000 signatures and SumOfUs.org was able to obtain 50,000 signatures.
Change.org’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.
SumOfUs.org’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, Change.org’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.”
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