Raging Grannies protest outside the Palo Alto store Feb. 13
If you happen by the Palo Alto Apple Store Monday afternoon, that group of elderly women dressed in white dancing the robot to techno music on the sidewalk aren’t some funky flashmob.
They’re Raging Grannies, and they’re are mad as hell about worker conditions in China where Apple products are made.
Galvanized by a recent Mike Daisey story on NPR about Foxconn, they’re staging monthly protests outside the Palo Alto Apple store. They’ll be on the sidewalk grooving to bring more attention to Apple’s labor policies in China at 3 p.m. on March 12.
Protesters at Apple headquarters in Cupertino. Image credit: Ted Smith.
A small but determined group of protesters from consumer watchdog group SumOfUs gathered at Apple headquarters in Cupertino and headed inside the shareholder’s meeting to ask questions about working conditions at Foxconn.
Employees at Foxconn factories in China claim that the company hid underage workers during the recent inspection by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) so that they would not be discovered, according to the organization Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM).
As most recently referenced in Tim Cook’s comments on worker safety at Goldman Sachs yesterday, Apple is spending a lot of effort in 2012 trying to solve allegations of abuse in their supply chain. This initiative has most recently culminated in Apple going to the unprecedented step of asking the Fair Labor Association to audit their factories.
The FLA’s report isn’t due until March, but already, the Fair Labor Association’s president Auret van Heerden has spoken out, saying that at first blush, Foxconn’s facilities appear to be “first-class” in comparison to the garment factories the association usually monitors.
Speaking at today’s Goldman Sachs keynote, Apple CEO Tim Cook began by bluntly addressing charges of worker abuse in Apple’s supply chain: Apple will not rest until every worker is guaranteed a fair, safe working environment without discrimination and at a competitive salary. Any suppliers who don’t take care of their workers will be fired.
Following claims that it isn’t doing enough to end worker mistreatment in Chinese factories, Apple has publicly asked the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to “conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China.”
The FLA acknowledged Apple’s request almost immediately and began its first inspections at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen this morning. Apple will be hoping that the FLA’s report puts the allegations that it is not doing all it can to bed and proves that working conditions are improving thanks to the company’s work.