Apple Needs To Think Different About Chinese Workers, Say Protesters


The Raging Grannies at the Palo Alto Apple store.
The Raging Grannies at the Palo Alto Apple store.

Apple fans and journalists asking them why they stood in line overnight weren’t the only ones outside retail stores for the debut of the latest iPad.

Consumer groups protesting labor conditions at the factories in China where those shiny new tablets were made were also out making their voices heard. representatives at today's iPad launch. was stationed outside stores in Washington, DC, New York City, and San Francisco, while the Raging Grannies took up their post outside the iconic Palo Alto store.

Protesters have frequently harnessed media attention at Apple stores, but if the Palo Alto scene is an indication, they had a hard time channeling the hoopla during a product launch.

Raging Grannies Ruth Robertson and Gail Sredanovic were out half an hour before the store opened at 8:00 a.m., but instead of putting on their usual rockstravaganza protest, they were told to keep it down by journalists who incited Apple fans in line to cheer for the TV cameras.

“So we passed out our literature,” Robertson told Cult of Mac by phone. “Some people were receptive, others wanted to argue economics with us. They seemed to think the market alone can fix it or that it’s simply China’s problem not Apple’s.”  The open letter of about 300 words asked for greater transparency in worker’s rights and conditions at the factories where Apple products are made.

Out in front of the San Francisco store, Charlotte Hill of says she and the dozen or so members representing the 250,000 people who signed the online petition were interviewed by a number of media outlets and found a “generally supportive” atmosphere by the folks waiting in line for the new iPad.

“A lot of people who signed Mark Shields’ petition are Apple users and love Apple,” Hill said, speaking from an iPhone. “The people in line today were pretty respectful; many people who love the products get the message that Apple should to live up to thinking differently when it comes to making them.”

Chatting with the people in line in Palo Alto, Sredanovic says that some admitted to being “addicted” to Apple products, something she has a hard time understanding but says is a sign of a consumerist society where companies like Apple build obsolescence into attractive products.

Both organizations said they will keep up the pressure on Apple until labor conditions at its contract manufacturing plants are changed.

“We made our statement, we were heard and that’s what we do,” Sredanovic said.

  • Eric

    Protestors need to get their heads out of their asses and use their brains, by doing research and not just jump on the “hate on Apple for Foxconn’s faults” bandwagon.  People, it’s NOT Apple, it’s FOXCONN.

  • GregsTechBlog

    The ignorance of these people is really getting annoying. It’s starting to hurt the cause. They need to go after the right targets, not Apple.

  • ClickMe

    Just read on the web that the guy who went to China (Daisey) lied about what he saw. Amazing. And this news breaks on iPad launch day no less!

    Apple FTW!

  • Figurative

    Foxconn conditions story was a big lie.

    Time to go home for the protest weenies.

  • Adam Gillitt

    Wonder when CoM will publish a retraction for running Daisey’s lies as a news story?

  • timborama

    That’s the problem with people today and the internet, you can pretend you’re doing something for a “cause” without actually putting in any effort.  Unlike the old days where you actually had to put some effort into protesting.

    Virtual petitions aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on. Oops, I guess they are.

  • Shane Bryson

    But even with knowing the conditions in FOXCONN, Apple continues to work with them. Although, I do agree with you.

  • Shane Bryson

    I wonder how many of these people own Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, or Samsung products. All of these companies have products assembled in Foxconn, and a lot more than Apple. Apple is just the biggest name and biggest target right now.

  • ElVox

    Could we stop covering these kind of idiots until they start going after all Foxconn’s clients or all companies that manufacture stuff in China? As long as it’s Apple only it’s nothing but link bait and that kind of crap is like terrorism…the more you publicize it, the more they’ll do it, because it’s what they want.

  • Eric

    That is true.  So are many of the other tech giants in the industry.  The reason being, is because Foxconn is first and foremost cheap.  They also produce relatively on time.  For Apple or any of the tech companies using Foxconn to leave them and go some where else, would cost them billions.  We all know there is no company out there willing to lose that much, and will try any other means to rectify the situation than lose that much money.  That’s the sad and unfortunate truth of the world.  Money makes the world go round…for the already rich.  Apple has been dumping a lot of money to Foxconn just for better working conditions for it’s employees.  But ultimately, it’s up to Foxconn to implement that.  Behind closed doors, there’s really nothing more anyone can do except Foxconn.

  • Eric

    He didn’t lie.  He’s not journalist, and never claimed to be.  He’s a … “storyteller”.  His story (and it was entertaining to hear), was based on facts, and his own personal experience of the accounts he witnessed when he went there.  Even if it wasn’t official journalism, and wasn’t told the boring, run of the mill journalistic way, it wasn’t a lie.  The American Life, who posted the “storytelling” just retracted showing it as a journalistic stand point.  None of the incidences, the comments from employees, were fabricated.  The rest he just dolled up to make the whole story interesting, and made people listen to ALL of it.  I did.  Had it been a 30 min newscast, and how news reporters present it, I wouldn’t have gotten pass 5 min.  But unlike “official” journalism, his facts weren’t embellished for ratings.

  • Eric

    Daisy didn’t lie about actual accounts that happened in Foxconn facilities, and never said it was news in the journalistic sense.  The American Life, who posted his story, was the one that labeled it as “news” (in the journalistic sense).  THEY are the ones retracting that.

  • Bob Forsberg

    This is the second non-story you’ve done about these nagging old bags…is one of them a relative?

  • CharliK

    He said that he met workers who had been poisoned with hexane while polishing displays. He said he met a man whose hand was mangled by machines on an assembly line. 

    Both were total fiction. He never met any such people. As his interpreter revealed and he admitted when pressed. 

  • CharliK

    He might be a storyteller but he did state that he was telling real things that happened. He lied. 

  • CharliK

    Apple knows the conditions. We know what we have been told are the conditions. Some of the stories by people revealed to be telling lies about what they say and who they talked to. 

    We are told half truths when we are told anything. Starting with the implication that Apple owns, manages etc Foxconn. They are one of 70-75 clients and no one pays attention to the other ones.