What is our moral obligation if we are buying a product that is made half way around the globe by employees so mistreated that their bosses have to string up nets around factory windows so that workers will stop jumping in an attempt to commit suicide?
According to CNET, the watchdog group SumOfUs will deliver their own petition, as well as one created by Change.org, to Apple stores worldwide. Cities to receive petitions include New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, London, Sydney, and Bangalore.
Over 250,000 combined signatures have been collected to pressure Apple into releasing the first ethical iPhone.
The petitions were created in response to an expose by the New York Times and an episode of This American Life – both painted a dark picture of suffering factory workers in China. Days after the Times article was published, Cook sent an email to employees stating the company cares about all workers.
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,” Cook said in the email. “Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us.”
The opposition points out that if Apple put enough pressure on the manufacturers, factories would have no choice but to improve work conditions. A former Apple executive told the Times anonymously, “Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”
Foxconn manufactures over 50 percent of the world’s electronic devices for companies like Microsoft, Samsung and Apple. Conditions are so bad that a spike of suicides plagued the company in 2011. Because suicides are so common, the company placed nets around buildings to prevent people from jumping.
“Can Apple do this? Absolutely.” SumOfUs said in their petition. “Apple is the richest company in the world.”