If it is anything like Apple’s past products, the new iPad will be a sleek, gorgeous gadget, hand-assembled by underpaid workers forced to put in illegal and dangerous amounts of overtime.

Apple says it cares about workers and requires its factories to follow the law. Well, we want to give Apple a chance to prove it.  As Apple customers and potential customers, we deserve to know whether the new iPad was manufactured illegally and unethically like past Apple products.

Use the form at the right to call on Apple to release workers’ clock-in and clock-out times at iPad factories over the past four months.

Why are we focusing on asking Apple to reveal this overtime information?

First, Apple has broken Chinese overtime law in the past
in its rush to get a product on shelves “on time” (a bizarre concept for a company that is so secretive about its launch dates that a whole cottage industry of rumor websites have popped up to guess that information).

A few weeks ago, the New York Times told a story about Chinese factory workers who were roused in the middle of the night. After only a few hours of sleep, they were forced back to the assembly line — all because Steve Jobs decided at the last minute that he wanted iPhones made with glass screens instead of plastic, but was unwilling to wait a few extra hours for the change to be made. In fact, independent reports have found that workers are forced to put in 80 to 100 hours of overtime (on top of the 174 hours of regular work) each month — well above the Chinese legal limit of 36 hours of overtime per month.

Second, we know that Apple’s suppliers keep these clock-in and clock-out records in easily accessible form. In fact, Apple’s biggest supplier, Foxconn, told the New York Times that its employees use computerized timecards — so the data should be just sitting there in a database already. If Apple is even remotely serious about protecting its workers, it would already have acquired and analyzed these records as one easy step to ensure that its suppliers are following its Code of Conduct.

Will you join our call for Apple to release data on individual iPad workers’ hours from November 2011 through February 2012?

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 last few months, then we will be the first to celebrate. But until Apple does so, we can only assume that they are bluffing about caring about workers’ health and safety — and we’re calling that bluff.

More Information:

The New York Times, 21 January 2012, How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work
Wired, 6 May 2011, New Report Details Onerous, Illegal Working Conditions at Foxconn
Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct