35,000 Sign Petition Calling For Apple To Stop Worker Abuse In Chinese Factories

35,000 Sign Petition Calling For Apple To Stop Worker Abuse In Chinese Factories

It seems that lengthy report looking into the poor working conditions in Chinese factories assembling Apple products is going to haunt the Cupertino company for some time yet. The latest backlash comes from consumer group SumOfUs, which has launched a petition calling for Apple to “stop worker abuse,” with over 35,000 signatures collected in just 24 hours.

It all started with a New York Times report that was published on January 26, detailing the chilling conditions that Chinese factory workers must suffer while they assemble our favorite Apple devices. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has already expressed his outrage at the report, labeling accusations that the company didn’t care “patently false and offensive.”

Cook also assured Apple employees that the company has “made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers,” but this hasn’t deterred the protesters.

A petition launched by SumOfUs has collected 35,000 signatures from people who are calling for Apple to do more to improve working conditions in Chinese factories. The company’s executive director, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, believes the considering Apple’s “famous” attention to detail, the only way the company can not know what’s happening in Chinese factories is through “willful ignorance.”

But despite this, Stinebrickner-Kauffman loves her iPhone:

“I use an iPhone myself. I love it, but I don’t love having to support sweatshops, and neither do millions of other Apple consumers.”

“The hip, educated market that Apple aspires to corner is largely composed of responsible consumers who don’t want to be complicit in sweatshop labor. Apple’s attention to detail is famous, and the only way they could fail to be aware of dozens of worker deaths, of child labor, of exposure to neurotoxins is through willful ignorance.”

Stinebrickner-Kauffman concludes by blasting Tim Cook, who she believes could do more to fix the problems if he was really offended by the allegations:

“If Tim Cook is really offended by these allegations, why isn’t he doing anything to fix the problems? Every time a Foxconn worker is killed or disabled making an Apple product, Mr. Cook bears personal moral responsibility. Apple’s enforcement of razor-thin profit margins at suppliers invites – and may even force – them to slash workers’ rights. But Apple is going to have much bigger longer-term problems than paying a few extra dollars for its products if it loses its luster with ethical consumers.”

While factory working conditions may need addressing, Apple has stressed the efforts it is making to do this on numerous occasions. It has also launched a Supplier Responsibility section on its website that allows us to track these improvements, and it has signed up to support the Fair Labor Association.

While additional pressure on the Cupertino company may inspire it to do more, maybe it’s also time for us to turn to the other manufacturers, like Dell, HP, Sony, and many more, who also use Foxconn factories for product assembly, and may not be taking the same steps Apple is to improve these issues.

If you’d like to sign the petition yourself, you can do so by visiting the petition page on the SumOfUs website.

Related
  • m_hardwick

    this is bloody stupid. if these people did any research at all they would see that plenty of other companies are much more guilty of “worker abuse” and Apple the only ones that pay any attention to the conditions of their factories and make an effort to set minimum standards.

  • Phil

    Matt, You are correct.
    I’m getting fucking tired of people making Apple look like this. The very clothes that you wear were made by an underage person somewhere in China. Why do people target Apple?

  • FriarNurgle

    No, No, Apple please do whatever you can to increase worker abuse in Chinese factories. 

    Of course people will sign a petition like this. 

  • beansontoast

    What does ‘Sumofus’ (I see what they did there. Very clever) know about the working conditions at Foxconn that isn’t hearsay? Have they inspected the factories themselves? Or are they just a bunch of leftie busybodies, picking on the biggest possible target in order to try and give themselves the maximum publicity?
    The Fair Labor Association must be satisfied with Apple’s efforts in this area, so presumably Sumofus is also accusing that organisation of being complicit in this alleged abuse as well?

  • Cindon83

    So much abuse and yet, one of the most desirous company to work for in China

  • Bryan Curtis

    I work in a lot of manufacturing facility’s right here in Ohio and most are horrible. Dirty and miserable hot in the summer and freezing in the winter.  Chemicals and hazards everywhere and some of them make minimum wage. These people are not forced to work at Foxconn, they chose to because the alternative is unemployment and poverty.  As fair as the wages go, I cant comment on because I don’t know the cost of living over there. Keep in mind these are most likely uneducated people snapping parts together and that kind of labor isn’t going to pay much

  • hellorabbit

    “If Tim Cook is really offended by these allegations, why isn’t he doing anything to fix the problems?”  Statements like this assume SO much about what Apple is or isn’t currently and actively doing to address the (alleged) issues. There could be (and I imagine probably IS) a flurry of activity going on behind the scenes that we don’t yet know about. Problems like these are far too complex to be resolved overnight, but that doesn’t seem to matter in this developing story. 

  • Srose428

    Seriously, why again is this only Apple’s fault?  Like it is somewhere in their contract with Foxconn that they encourage terrible working conditions…this would be like complaining to US Gov about the terrible conditions faced in war, well yeah its war not a tea party.  Same here, as mentioned below, manufacturing factories (regardless of their geographic location) have bad working conditions.  I am going to start writing letters today to Mead paper company about the dwindling tiger population in forests around the world, because they need trees and Mead is taking them!!!  Join in my OUTRAGE!!

  • Mackintosh.0

    Ironically, there’s probably more people in line to work for Foxconn than there are people protesting via petition…http://http://www.cultofmac.com/143672/thous...

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    It looks a lot cleaner than some of the factories I’ve worked in ten years ago in New York City and Long Island City in Queens, doing assembly for plastic store displays.  One had to deal with some pretty nasty fumes and toxins in the form of plastic cleaners and adhesives and the ventilation wasn’t all that good.

    I’m fairly certain that Foxconn assembles components for other companies besides Apple.  Why aren’t these other companies being attacked?  Why are these iHaters singling out Apple as the main conspirator of injustices?  Those are Chinese factories and the owners of those factories run their business as how they see fit.  I’ve worked in factories in NYC and the conditions were certainly less than ideal.  Plenty of toxins and noxious odors to breathe when working with plastics and inadequate ventilation.  Why start attacking the Chinese work situations when these same situations exist right here in the U.S.

    Yeah, I’m sorry those employees have to work in poor conditions, but the owners of Foxconn allow those situations, not Apple.  I don’t think we have the right to be poking our noses into China’s employee problems.  I’d read that people are lining up by the thousands to get jobs at Foxconn, so maybe it isn’t as bad as the media makes it out to be.  I hope it’s not has bad as it’s made out to be, but human life is cheap and has always been that way.

  • Luis Dominguez

    Yeah, you are correct.  The problem here is that Apple is the most valuable company in the world so they are gonna catch the heat on this.  It’s much easier to attack one company instead of going after everyone.  All that money Apple has now people are gonna make suggestions on what to do with it and the main one is gonna be the foxconn workers.  

  • CharliK

    So Apple demands that folks working Apple lines get triple pay, blah lah.

    What about the other folks. The 800,00 or so on the other lines. What about the clothing factories etc. are we going to demand that apple fixes that also

  • ctt1wbw

    Plus, this is NOT an Apple owned factory.  FoxCon is a CONTRACTOR.  Apple doesn’t make the rules there, FoxCon does.

  • Larchmonter445

    She should take the petition to Foxconn and get 100,000 signatures waiting in line to go to work.

    Obviously, Google and its Android dolts are behind this BS. Everyone who owns any high tech product is complicit in the process.  So let’s all go back to postage stamps, dixie cups and strings, carrier pigeons and sewing circles and social teas for communication. 

    Every advance has costs–deadly costs, long-lasting costs. It’s been that way since our ancestors came down from the trees onto the savannas and out of the caves.

    Apple is on the case and they will lead the way, just as they always have in excellent design and useful products. Stop moralizing about their culture. 

    Maybe you ought to work on getting land mines America has placed and sold all over the planet.
    Now that is worth a petition and some moralizing over.

  • m_hardwick

    it was only short while ago, that Microsoft was much more valuable with both it’s own and rebadged Logitech hardware being made in the same factories, by the same people (but with lower standards) as what Apple is now.

  • Aj Tk427

    Agreed, this is all because of the fact that Apple is top of the game right now.  It’s dam hypocritical of her, she loves her iPhone but man Apple should be doing better. Ha, if Apple did better, your iPhone would cost twice the price and you probably couldn’t afford one.
    Not to mention, as has been said by many, own any piece of electronics or clothing that isn’t made in North America and the working standards are going to be pretty shit.

  • mlahero

    “Obviously, Google and its Android dolts are behind this BS.”

    Oh man please don’t be that narrowminded and biased. We’re mac fans, we’re not idiots.

  • Shambhavi Sarasvati

    Thanks for posting this article.

  • scott boettcher

    34,999 are hypocrites using other hardware made in the same **cking factories.
    What a crock of Apple-hating dung this is.  Where was the rest of the world in the Industrial Revolution protesting abuse in American factories/farms/mines?  
    Have you seen the relative numbers of suicides, etc. in the general population? The salaries? All are better at the Foxconn factories than elsewhere. Why is Apple singled out when they are doing more than the others?

  • mlahero

    This is not an issue of Apple owning the factory, the issue is that of all the technology companies out there Apple is the biggest and therefore Apple has a moral responsibility to set the standard. Apple has $100 billion in the bank, they have quite a bit of say.

  • ctt1wbw

    Apple does not set the rules for company’s policies.  Just like the Navy does not set the worker’s hours and company policies at Northrup Grumman Newport News shipyard.  Understand?

  • turbohand

    35,000 people would sign a ham sandwich.

  • john4043

    am sure the 35,000 signatures are windows users!

  • mlahero

    Northrup Grumman does not employ slave like labour conditions, and their workers dont threaten mass suicides. There are no suicide nets at Northrup.

    This is not an issue of people wanting dental cover or more coffee breaks. This involves a persons basic human rights, his/her welfare and the disparity between that situation and a shiny new iphone arriving at your doorstep. Apple have a moral obligation as one of the primary driving forces behind that process to change that process.

    It’s just too convenient to say “But.. but.. Apple can’t change anything!”.

  • mlahero

    Change has to start somewhere buddy. If anyone is going to get it started its Apple.

  • mlahero

    I agree its unfair that Apple are bearing the brunt of this anti-sweatshop rhetoric, public awareness goes a long way and I do think the other companies involved should be more actively named. They just chuck in the other companies involved like a footnote.

  • mlahero

    Apple are involved if you like it or not. Justifying those terrible work conditions by saying “But we need to make iphones!” does not hold much moral integrity.

  • mlahero

    Its no doubt because they have $100 billion in the bank. Profiting off chinese sweatshops is never going to look good when you have made that much money.

  • mlahero

    At the very least public awareness is increasing about those horrid work conditions.

  • m_hardwick

    I’d argue that that is detrimental to the cause, as people such as Nike, among others in the clothing industry for example, are far more guilty of sweat shop labour than technology companies.

  • ctt1wbw

    So you’ve been to FoxConn?  I’ve been to that shipyard.  USS Enterprise, 3 years.  So at least I have something to stand on here.

  • AKX3K

    it a foxconn problem so shut up

  • JDWages

    Oh please.  If you bleeding hearts are so concerned about your fellow man, why do you sit there signing petitions?  You’re probably signing those petitions on devices that say MADE IN CHINA on the back.  And many of your own electronic devices not made by Apple in CHINA were probably made under worse circumstances that Apple’s devices, because those other companies get less press than Apple and get away scot free with abuses.  Why not instead prove your commitment to humane treatment of others by flying to China and seeing what you can do over there to help?  If Steve Jobs as a broke youth could find his way to India to seek enlightenment, the least you bleeding hearts could do is make your way to China to enlighten them on human rights issues.

  • Nathan Myers

    Umm.. this is just the most stupid petition since.. well nothing else. I think people need to get it drilled into their heads that Apple is just ONE of the people that uses Foxconn for their products, Dell, etc. use them as well.. Maybe Cult of Mac can be the starting place for spreading the word that Apple is NOT causing these issues but Foxconn themselves. Apple is the ONLY one trying to fix the issue and they get blamed for it? I don’t think so..

  • LouieTran

    People complain about not having enough iDevices in stock on launch date, and now people complain about the factory that builds them as quick as they can to meet those demands. this is just the way life is and their is a price for everything. as many people here have mentioned, it is not apple causing these issues but Foxconn. Apple has tried to address this and people can argue that they are or are not doing their best to correct this but they definitely are not turning a blind eye to this. we can have everything made in america again and then people will start complaining about how overpriced it is and start buying droids that are made where? china of course in factories with similar conditions to Foxconn. Reality isn’t pretty, but this is reality. Ignorant people need to get their heads out of their asses. You can’t trade something for nothing.

  • Phil

    As far as we’re concerned, and this may sound messed up, but that’s China’s problem. Our country fixed this issue, along with some more modern issues. Ironically, this is why companies like Apple outsource to places like China. I say let machines make machines!!!!

  • Mike Muyal

    These are the same people who want their cake and eat it, too.
    I’m not condoning sweatshops–but remember it was the Wal-mart-ization of the USA that made China such an economic powerhouse. And you can bet that if not China, then a dozen other countries are lining up to get the work.
    Sure, Apple may be able to enforce stricter policies..perhaps. But when that iPhone 5 costs $25 more, you can bet these guys will be screaming bloody murder. And when their pension funds or mutual funds or 401K have reduced returns because corporations are not being as profitable, you can bet they’ll be the first to drop these firms as investments.
    I’m being a bit oversimplistic, perhaps. But Apple shouldn’t be bearing the burden. Nor do I suggest any other single company.

  • takeo

    I will make a petition for Apple to hand over 100 dollar to every Apple customer NOW.
    I get more signatures I’m sure :p

  • Charel

    So, Apple should stop worker abuse in China. What nonsense will they think up next.

    It should be noted that China is on the way to become a developed nation. We tend to forget that at a similar point in our development the situation of workers in industry were not any better than we find in China to-day.

    It is simplistic to demand that China’s working conditions and pay are equal to ours. Given time and effort things will improve.

    As for the demand to manufacture in the US what can be made more efficiently elsewhere is naïve. California has an efficient hub for design and software, coupled with venture capital. China, on the other hand, has an efficient hub for the manufacture of electronic products. The US has done away with that and to demand a return is simply impossible.

  • UncaughtException

    Nobody will care on iPhone 5 launch day.

  • Mackintosh.0

    Ironically I think fewer people signed this petition than are waiting in line for Foxconn jobs…

  • John

    Wayne, shut your mouth … you’re just coming off stupid.  Contracts exist and are enforceable throughout the world.  Either side can add conditions.

  • ctt1wbw

     Stupid?  Like I said, I have a context to know what I’m talking about.  If you only believe what the New York Times tells you is the truth without actually having been to that plant, you are the stupid one.  I don’t believe jack shit that the New York Times says, and I have been to that specific shipyard.  The Navy doesn’t own that shipyard just like Apple doesn’t own the FoxCon plant.  The US sets rules that the shipyard has to follow in regards to safety and the shipyard makes its own rules as well.  It’s up to both China and FoxCon to make and enforce the rules in factories like FoxCon, not up to Apple.  Plus, why is everyone harping on Apple?  FoxCon makes hardware for other contractors as well as Apple.  Go harp on them to make and enforce rules on a factory on foreign soil and see how far that gets you.

  • Softnology Systems

    Apple is making so much sales over the year so that why they have to hire more labor . .

    Calling Cards | Phone Cards

  • Softnology Systems

    Apple is making so much sales over the year so that why they have to hire more labor . .

    Calling Cards | Phone Cards

  • Softnology Systems
  • cheyennecowboy

    This is a lot like the old cliche, “Misery loves company.”   These petition signers are probably from the same organization: OWS.  That would be “Joe’s Rent-A-Jerk”  In all likelihood, they are probably unemployed. At least the Chinese workers have jobs and are earning a wage, which is more than the OWS thugs.  They would like to see the Chinese folks quit there jobs in protest.  Different work ethic, one which OWS and petition signers just simply don’t understand. Work ethic and personal responsibility, they may never get it, and will be “on the take” all of their lives.

  • Christopher Hollisian

    Even if I was dumb enough to buy a mac product why would I care how its is made. Life sucks for some people that’s how its always been signing a piece of paper and acting like a douche bag hipster just brings out the internet trolls on top of you looking like an ass.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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