Photo: Jon Terbush
Tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time, a group of ticked off Apple customers will show up at Apple’s headquarters and stores in D.C., New York, San Francisco, London, Sydney, and Bangalore.They will be delivering petitions signed by 250,000 people asking the company to develop a worker protection strategy in response to reported abuse in Chinese supplier factories.
Signatures were collected on Change.org and SumOfUs. SumOfUs launched about two months ago, and is like a Change.org dedicated to corporate responsibility issues. (It has also taken on Walmart, Verizon and Google, for instance.)
The point these protestors are trying to make is that they represent the voice of Apple’s actual customers. Of the 55,000 petitioners on SumOfUs, more than 35,000 buy Apple products, and over 20,000 are iPhone users, says protest organisers.
“I use an iPhone myself,” said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfUs in a press release sent to Business Insider. “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 labour.”
The renewed interest in Apple’s worker policies sprang from an episode of Public Radio International’s “This American Life” that aired last month. It was a special report on worker conditions at Apple’s manufacturing facilities and workers’ conditions. It showed how iPhones are built in part by adolescents working 16 hours a day for 70 cents an hour.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has since responded to the uproar, saying in a recent interview, “We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain.” Cook also said that Apple now has the Fair labour Association monitoring its suppliers.
The petitioners say they are happy to hear that but they want two more specific actions taken. They want Apple to release a report on the FLA’s findings. They also want Apple to release a worker protection strategy for new product releases. That is the period when injuries and suicides are most likely to occur “because of the incredible pressure to meet quotas timed to releases,” the protesters say.
Tomorrow, activists will try to prove their point by wearing iPhone costumes, waving iPhone posters and delivering petitions in Mac boxes. The activities will occur at 10 a.m. local time in the U.S. locations.
Apple has been asked for comment.