As we’ve written here, Apple’s record-breaking success in selling iPhones, iPads and iPods have come at a terrible cost: Workers at Foxconn, Apple’s largest supplier in China, have died from suicides, explosions and exhaustion from 30- to 60-hour shifts and many are students forced to work for the company to get their degrees.
Recently, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to arrange for inspections of its factories. These inspections will not expose—or begin to solve—Apple’s problems. The FLA is funded and controlled by the multinational corporations it oversees, which means it is not at all independent. As Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) recently said, independence “means an organization is not funded and governed by the companies it is charged with investigating.”
Apple has been richly rewarded for its success. It is now the largest publicly traded company in the world, worth a whopping $465 billion. The company made $17.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone—just shy of a 40 percent profit margin.
In fact, Apple could have tripled compensation for all the workers who make its products last year and still made $40 billion in profits.
Take a minute to sign our petition to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. Tell him to ensure that people integral to Apple’s success—workers who manufacture Apple’s electronics—are treated fairly.
A couple days ago, Foxconn also announced a recent raise for some of its workers. But it looks like another PR smokescreen. According to Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior:
The new basic wage…only applies to the workers in Shenzhen. In inland provinces, where two-thirds of production workers are based, basic salary remains meager. Given that the inflation in China is high, Foxconn is just following the trend of wage increase in the electronics industry in China.
Apple needs to to immediately allow genuine unions, with truly independent factory inspections and worker trainings. Trying to brush this under the rug—or hide behind a front group like the FLA—only will make Apple’s PR problems worse.
Apple can be both innovative and ethical. Tell that to CEO Tim Cook by signing the petition.