Guangdong, China - credit: Getty Images" />
Lately, Apple’scome under fire for harsh working conditions at its Foxconn iPhone andiPadfactories. A recent report by The New York Times exposed Apple's complicity inthese workers’ exploitation, quoting an anonymous Apple executive as saying:“...The system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Appletold them they didn’t have another choice.”In a previousTimes story about the impressive pace of Chinese manufacturing, there was anexample of 8,000 Foxconn workers being woken up at a late hour to assemble a last-minutechange to the iPhone’s screen. Of course, Foxconn officially denied the claim,saying that workers' hours are strictly adhered to, but workers familiar with the casebacked up the original story. Other examples of harsh conditions abound: explosions at aChengdu-based iPad factory killed four people and injured 77, even after Apple had beenmade aware of the hazardous conditions at the plant. In another case, 137 workers atanother Chinese Apple supplier were injured after they were given a poisonous chemical toclean the screens of iPhones. The list is long, it seems.Today, an internalemail by furious CEO Tim Cooktrumpeted the company line: “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patentlyfalse and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these arecontrary to our values. It’s not who we are.” Apple hasalways defended itself by saying it has a supplier code of conduct, but this is a bit likesaying, “The iPhone in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free,” and then notexpecting your suppliers to run employees off a cliff in an effort to meet theirdeadlines. Apple and other companies working in China will have to take a more active rolein setting up independent monitors because it’s obvious that managers at companieslike Foxconn can’t be trusted to put their employees interest before their clients.Those thinking “why don’t employees just start a union?” should knowthat they will get a 12-year prison sentence for attempting to unionize. Claims about“values” are meaningless without some real moves to back them up, sinceit’s clear employees have no control over the situation.Unfortunately,Apple’s not unique here, and, as The New York Times mentioned, Dell,Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba, and others are allimplicated. Here’s hoping all this scrutiny results in some actual industry-widesoul searching followed by action, not just empty claims that they pinky swear to give acrap. Continue Reading ]More...[/url]