Fighting for people over profits
Apple says it makes its products ethically. It says it’s committed to the “highest standards of social responsibility.”
But then how does Apple explain this report we got recently from a worker in a factory in its Chinese supply chain?
“I am a current worker at Foxconn. In fact, all the reports of increasing wages and reducing working hours are deceptive. Now we are producing the iPhone 5. We 87 workers have to assemble 3,000 per day, and our leader told us that after the new iPhone goes public we would need assemble 6,500 ones a day. We are now working more than 10 hours a day. There are many student workers in our production line, all around 18 years of age. They’ve been complaining and demanding to go back to school but were never allowed.”
The truth is that, even after six months of hand-wringing and pledges, things are still not better for factory workers in Apple’s Chinese supply chain. And the iPhone 5 announced recently — it’s still not made ethically.
Tell Apple: It’s time to make the iPhone ethically. You can’t afford not to.
Back in January, in response to reports of repeated worker suicides, toxic working conditions and rampant illegal overtime, SumOfUs.org launched a campaign to push Apple to address reports of horrendous working conditions in its Chinese supply chain. Over 200,000 of us raised our voices to demand that Apple make the iPhone 5 ethically. But the iPhone 5 is not an ethical iPhone — not even close.
In response to the massive public outcry, Apple promised to improve working conditions, raise wages, and put an end to involuntary labor. The Fair Labor Association — which is paid by Apple to investigate Apple — quickly announced that there was rapid progress at Apple’s suppliers. But independent reports from as recently as August 2012 tell a very different story.
Apple claims that it’s ending forced illegal overtime, but workers are simply required to meet the same quotas within a regular shift — meaning many have to work extra hours without any pay at all. Apple claims wages are rising, but deductions for room and board have risen even more, so take-home pay has actually declined. Meanwhile bosses are still abusive, unions are still overwhelmingly populated by management, students are still forced to work in factories as part of phony “internship” programs, and workers still lack any collective bargaining rights.
Suppliers like Foxconn abuse their workers because Apple demands that iPhones and other gadgets be produced as cheaply as possible. But Apple makes huge profits, and it can easily afford to treat its workers ethically. And as the world’s largest company, Apple has the cash, the centralized supply chain, and organizational heft to drive improvements throughout the Chinese manufacturing sector by raising its own standards.
SumOfUs.org members have driven Apple to publicly address working conditions in its supply chains. Apple clearly wants to look like an ethical company, but we need to keep up the pressure to make sure it follows through on its promises.