Foxconn is the world’s largest electronics manufacturing company, assembling devices for just about every major company, from Apple to Microsoft to Sony to Nintendo. It has come under fire in recent years, following reports of poor working conditions and employee suicides. Concerned that their favorite products might be being produced in such an unfriendly environment, more than 250,000 Apple users have signed two petitions asking that company to improve conditions at Foxconn.
The larger of the two petitions, on Change.org, reads in part:
Last week’s This American Life shined a spotlight on the working conditions in the Chinese factories where iPhones are made. Just one example of the hardships there: the men and women in these factories work very long days spent repeating the same motions over and over, which creates amped-up carpal tunnel syndrome in their wrists and hands. This often results in them losing the use of their hands for the rest of their lives. This condition could be easily prevented if the workers were rotated through different positions in the factory, but they are not. Why? Because there are no labor laws in China to protect these people.
Here’s the thing: you’re Apple. You’re supposed to think different. I want to continue to use and love the products you make, because they’re changing the world, and have already changed my life. But I also want to know that when I buy products from you, it’s not at the cost of horrible human suffering.
That petition makes two requests. First, that Apple release a worker protection strategy for new product releases, which is apparently when Foxconn experiences a spike in worker injuries and suicides.
Second, that Apple publishes the results of the Fair Labor Association’s monitoring of its suppliers, “including the NAMES of the suppliers found to have violations and WHAT those violations are, so that there is transparency around the monitoring effort.”
The other petition, posted on SumOfUs.org, reads:
Right now we have a huge opportunity as ethical consumers: The launch of the iPhone 5 later this year will be new Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first big product rollout, and he can’t afford for anything to go wrong — including negative publicity around how Apple’s suppliers treat their workers. That’s why we’re launching a campaign this week to get Apple to overhaul the way its suppliers treat their workers in time for the launch of the iPhone 5.
Foxconn has more than a dozen factories in China, along with facilities in Mexico, Brazil, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and India. In addition to the iPhone and iPad, the company manufactures all the major gaming consoles, along with many brands of computers and mobile phones.