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Should consumers boycott Apple?

We have been reporting recently on the working conditions at partner factories which produce Apple goods. Since then many of the mainstream press organisations are also latching onto the stories of terrible working conditions and ‘slave labour’ claims. The company could face a boycott now if things don’t change, quickly.

Apple use an indepth network of Chinese factories to build their range of products, including the iPad and iPhone. Their squeaky clean image has been tarnished as the working conditions have been analysed by leading publications.

The New York Times went with a story last year which caused concern for Apple leaders entitled ‘Apple’s Chinese workers treated ‘inhumanely, like machines’. Since then, a series of stories have been published on working conditions which would not be tolerated in Europe or America. Apparently half a million workers are paid 65p an hour, and can be tasked to work a 60 hour week.

The Los Angeles Times published a column recently which read ‘Should consumers boycott Apple?’, this detailed the working conditions at length. The PR disaster for Apple won’t disappear, especially as their recent financial report highlights an all new record for profits. Many people feel that with revenue of $46.33 billion they should be working harder to improve the conditions of their production factories.

Dan Lyons, who writes for Newsweek and Daily Beast has said “It’s barbaric. Ultimately the blame lies not with Apple and other electronics companies – but with us, the consumers. And ultimately we are the ones who must demand change.”

The Guardian newspaper in the UK add “Through the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad tablet computer, Apple has revolutionised lifestyles across the world and built up a cult of worshippers. It has also generated billions of dollars in profits, in part due to the cheapness of Chinese labour.

But much of the firm’s success rests on its reputation for “cool” among hip urban professionals and a generally positive corporate image. Stories of worker abuse at Chinese firms are a direct threat to that winning combination.”

The New York Times have been at the forefront of the reports and many American people are waking up to the fact that their new mobile device has been created in such horrific conditions. Other companies use similar factories in China for their product line, so Apple are not alone … they are however the largest and highest profile so the focus has been on them for many of the reports.

Foxconn are tightly linked with Apple, and last year a raft of suicides caused worldwide concern. Employees jumped to their death, unable to deal with the working conditions any longer. Explosions at iPad factories recently have killed four people and 137 workers have been injured after cleaning iPhone screens with a poisonous chemical.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO sent an email to Apple staff, which read “We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. 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… accusations like these are contrary to our values.”

Apple released a list of all the firms in their worldwide supply chain, and 62 percent of these 229 facilities are not in compliance with Apple’s 60 hour maximum working week policy. Around 30 percent have a problem with hazardous waste.

Kitguru says: It may be unfair to single out Apple as being linked with inhumane working conditions in China, however they really do need to put some money into the production chain to resolve the situation. We feel it is at the point now were the public are very aware of what is happening and it could damage their brand name long term.

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