Protesters Sour on Apple Over Working Conditions in China

How many signatures will it take for Apple to respond to protests about reports of inhumane working conditions at China suppliers?

Protesters are taking Apple to task for recent reports about inhumane working conditions at its Chinese suppliers in a growing number of online petitions 

Petitions at www.change.org range from having a couple of signees to a few thousand. They demand that Apple reform its practices and publish labor reports for the sake of transparency. 

Mark Shields, based in Washington D.C., started the most popular petition to date, which has about 2,300 signatures.

In the letter, Shields wrote that he wants “to know that when I buy products from you, it’s not at the cost of horrible human suffering.”

Shields represents himself as an avid Mac user, saying the company’s products have already changed his life, but says that the recent news has left people like him “with a terrible knot in [their] stomach.”

Shields asks that Apple “release a worker protection strategy for new product releases, which are the instances when injuries and suicides typically spike because of the incredible pressure to meet quotas timed to releases.”

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His second request is that Apple publishes the result of the Fair Labor Association’s monitoring.

“Please make these changes immediately, so that each of us can once again hold our heads high and say, “I’m a Mac person,” the letter says.

Apple has faced an onslaught of media attention over the past few weeks thanks to stories from NPR and the New York Times about worrisome working conditions at Chinese factories partnered with the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

The reports detail everything from worker suicide to the use of under-age workers at the factories, and also exhibit claims that Apple is inclined to turn a blind eye to such cases.  

Apple’s Tim Cook penned an e-mail to employees in which he insisted Apple was doing all it can to rectify any such issues, and blasted those accusing Apple of negligence at the same time. The suppliers have denied many of the reports as well.