Were Workers Forced To Violate Chinese Labor Laws To Make The New iPad? [Interview] | Cult of Mac

Were Workers Forced To Violate Chinese Labor Laws To Make The New iPad? [Interview]

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sumofus

Watchdog group SumOfUs has launched a new petition asking Apple to prove that workers at Foxconn factories in China weren’t subject to illegal overtime to make the iPad 3.

Specifically, they’re looking for Apple to turn over individual worker hours from November 2011-February 2012 to prove they’re not violating China’s labor laws which prohibit more than 36 hours of overtime per month.

Cult of Mac talked to SumOfUs founder Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman about what the group hopes to achieve with this latest petition, launched the morning of the iPad event as of this writing reached 41,500 of its 50,000 signature goal.

CoM: So you just issued another petition about Apple and its labor policies, have you had any reaction from them?

Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman: No.

CoM: What do you hope to achieve with this petition?

TSK: As an iPhone user and Mac user, I hope that they will release this data and that workers were not forced to violate labor laws in China to make the new iPad.

CoM: But you’re not calling for a consumer boycott, correct?

TSK: There are a lot of things short of a boycott that we can do, though I wouldn’t rule it out in the long term. These company changes do take some time, they don’t happen overnight.

CoM: What do you think those worker records would show, if they were made public?

TSK: Frankly, I would be very surprised if the iPad workers weren’t forced to work illegal overtime to get these products on the shelves in March.

If they were made public, it would serve as a wake-up call for a lot of people. Apple can’t require the kind of turnaround time from suppliers who have those tiny profit margins and still expect them them to respect labor laws.

Chinese law states 36 hours a month of overtime, but for many people it’s more like 80 hours – sometimes it’s hard to tell because they can massage the data with clock-in times, etc. There have been cases of workers dropping dead from exhaustion

CoM: With the FLA audit, Apple is doing more than other global electronics companies who all make their products at Foxconn. But you think it’s not enough?

TSK: Apple really has to take responsibility for how its products are made.

If Apple is serious about worker’s rights, showing the time cards is not a research project that takes three months to obtain or requires an audit or anything. It’s computer data that’s readily available…

The issue is really cut and dry: Apple’s suppliers should be following local laws. It’s not the only issue surrounding labor, but this should be a red flag for people…

CoM: So I take it you won’t be lining up to get the new iPad then?

TSK: (Laughs.) It’s possible I’ll be next to the line outside the Apple store handing out flyers. It’s unfortunate, it sounds like a great product, but I don’t feel comfortable being complicit in the way it was made…