Update on Ethical iPhone Petition
UPDATE (February 24, 2012): We’d like to thank the blog AppleInsider for pointing out an error we made on the ethical iPhone petition landing page. Our original email to our membership discussed the use of the neurotoxin n-hexane in iPhone factories. N-hexane, a neurotoxin, was in use in Apple factories to clean iPhone glass and poisoned more than one hundred workers last year — see our letter here from two of the affected workers. After learning that n-hexane is not currently in use (because of pressure from workers) at Wintek, the Apple supplier where over a hundred workers suffered neurological damage from exposure, we made a too-hasty editing error to the landing page to suggest that its replacement, isopropanol, has similar effects.
The landing page text now accurately reflects the past usage of n-hexane to clean iPhone glass, as well as the fact that Apple workers are not regularly informed about the nature of chemicals they are handling. N-hexane is only one of the many violations we cite. Along with exposure to this and other chemicals that cause both short-term and long-term health effects, Apple workers also are forced to work long overtime with at least one documented case of death by exhaustion after a 34-hour shift. These terrible conditions are why so many consumers have signed our petition to Apple, the text of which is simply, “The quality of working conditions matters as much as the quality of your products. Make the iPhone 5 and your other products ethically.”
Of course, without full access to the factories by truly independent labor rights groups with the ability to make unannounced inspections as well as interview workers off-site and anonymously, we cannot know the full extent of the effects of working conditions in these factories — or the full effects on workers of exposure to the particular chemicals in use. We do know that, even by Apple’s admission, there are extremely serious ongoing violations of workers rights throughout its supply chain, and that real-world workers are suffering hugely. We call on Apple to take the hard steps necessary to protect its workers, including full access to its factories by truly independent labor rights groups and a zero-tolerance policy towards workers rights violations by its suppliers.