Abusive Working Conditions at Apple!?!

The New York Times published a shocking story last Wednesday, January 25th, that exposed atrocious working conditions at Chinese manufacturers, including those that produce products for Apple. The story documents various accounts that occurred at the Chinese manufacturer, Foxconn. Such accounts include: fatal chemical explosions that killed or injured over a hundred workers, the exploitation of under-age workers, the improper disposal of hazardous chemicals and toxic waste, excessive work hours, and also poor living conditions for workers. The Times also interviewed former Apple executives who attest that Apple and Foxconn were fully aware of these conditions for at least four years, although they’re still going on. Here is the link to the full article.

Do you believe the allegations are true? Would you ever consider boycotting Apple? Should we even be concerned about where and or how our phones are made? Do you believe this could lead to more manufacturers being exposed?

Sources: Charles Duhigg and David Barboza http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/ieconomy-apples-ipad-and-the-human-costs-for-workers-in-china.html?pagewanted=all

Steve Kovach http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/31/tech/gaming-gadgets/apple-boycott-commentary/index.html

Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/31/tech/gaming-gadgets/apple-boycott-commentary/index.html

15 Responses to “Abusive Working Conditions at Apple!?!”

  • Honestly, I knew it would be only a matter of time where cases of working conditions would be exposed. Whenever there is a high demand for a product or service, there is usually someone or a group of people who suffer. I think what we need to do as consumers is evaluate our need, then categorize a majority of them as wants, and from there, see if our wants are worth others lives. It may be a far fetched thinking process for some, but I know that is what I will consider when thinking about purchasing the iPhone 5 which is suppose to hit the market this summer.

  • I completely agree with Jasmine. The majority of outsourced work probably has the same conditions these Apple workers are experiencing but we’re just not informed of it yet. It’s just a matter of time before all the companies are exposed for such atrocity. Also, given the fact that Apple and Foxconn were fully aware of it does make the situation a lot worse.

  • I’ll be the first to say that i’m not an apple fan in general. I feel that most manufacturers that operate out of China violate all different kinds of ethical business practices. Apple is just the company that happened to get caught. You will see, there will be many more unethical business practices being exposed this year.

  • It seems that no one is surprised about the exposed conditions of outsourced workers for Apple. Like Jasmine said, it was really only a matter of time before the pressure for these products caught up the to individuals who were actually making them. Now the real questions is what are the consequences for Apple? Will people actual boycott such a loved brand?

  • Although I blame Apple for dealing with a manufacturer that treats their associates/workers like this, this isn’t directly Apple that treats their people this way. They have outsourced the manufacturing if I read correctly, so this is another case of a company wanting the lowest price while jeopardizing ethics which isn’t the correct way handle it. However they stated they knew about conditions and still kept things that way even though only a request would have changed things because they were “Apple” as an executive state, this is a scenario that should have never happened, Though Apple can step back and say its not their direct company by admitting they knew and let it exist they are just as guilty!

  • I agree with Isaac, but I also think that Apple is just one of the many companies that is exploiting foreign labor. I think that in the competitive environment that these companies are in, when one company exploits labor to get lower prices, it forces others to do the same. Not to say that their actions are justified, but maybe there should be stricter labor laws imposed.

  • I do believe that the allegations are true because many multinational corporations have had similar problems. I wouldn’t consider boycotting Apple products. The countries government who are facing the allegations should make more restrict laws and regulations for corporations. I wouldn’t say where the products are made is a huge issue, but how they are made is important aspect for me. I don’t believe that more companies will be exposed as a result of Apple. There are numerous examples of multinational corporations that have been exposed, and there haven’t been huge impacts on other corporations. Many companies only follow the minimum laws and regulations for that country.

  • It’s not surprising that Apple faced these allegations. Most of the companies that are doing well, end up making profit at the expense of its employee’s unfair labor and horrible and unsafe working conditions. Personally, I would never buy Apple products if it turns out that this company engages in such unethical behavior. If this is the case, Apple should immediately fix the problem and make a public announcement that it is still committed to ethical principles of doing business.

  • The luxury pricing on their gadgets in combination with the cheap labor should leave a large profit margin. If they want to establish themselves not only as the most prestigious and recognizable brand, they have the power and time to look at their company holistically. They are the market leaders and should set the example while they are ahead.

  • Foxconn has been in the news for a few years now for its terrible workplace conditions and routine employee suicides. Most recently, workers have been jumping from the roof on their breaks due to inhuman working conditions. It’s gotten to the point where they installed safety nets in some places to deter suicides. Apple has always pretended to take the stance of concern on these issues, promising to investigate them further. No changes have been made though, as they would not be able to have their products so efficiently and for so little money anywhere else. If their products were made in the US, the retail price would skyrocket. Profiting on foreign labor is like the dark side of capitalism – so many companies do it simply because it leads to a more profitable bottom line. What they don’t seem to care about is the ethical implications of doing so; Foxconn is a good, if extreme, example of this.

  • This isn’t really news to my ears, we’ve noticed the lack of Chinese labor laws for years here in the US yet all of these big companies, Apple, Nike, etc. all continue to take advantage of globalization for purely profitable reasons. It is entirely unethical, but when your company is a publicly traded company, ethics are, in most cases, thrown out the door for the companies’ stockholders. Until the consumers demand a product devoid of unethical practices, this will never stop happening.

  • Dana:

    As much as we all want to slap the wrists of Apple, they are certainly not the only company who outsources their work to countries with poor working conditions. We would all like to be a sustainable and ethical consumer base, but globalization allows huge companies like Apple to provide for every want at the bottom line; this bottom line isn’t always humanity-friendly. IKEA also violated this ethical issue by hiring a rug-manufacturing plant that employed children in the factories in India. I certainly don’t like the idea of treating individuals poorly, but sometimes it’s an necessary evil, something that sometimes goes hand-in-hand with globalization. Our main goal is not to focus on what Apple has been doing, but how companies, collectively, can change what the current conditions are.

  • This does not completely surprise me. Many companies who are outsourcing work to foreign countries are not completely following the ethical guidelines set for them. Bottom line companies are trying to maximize their profits and for many companies that means using foreign factories and workers to make their products at the cheapest manufacturing costs. It is sad to see large and popular companies like Apple performing such actions because it is a company many people idealize. It is not fair for these workers or for their families. This is a problem that stems far beyond Apple, but rather it is all of corporate America’s problem. Nike was accused a few years ago for the same allegations and they made some changes, but they are still performing illegal actions elsewhere. This is a problem that must be addressed and further pushed in Congress.

  • Foxconn’s client list includes all the major tech companies. Why single out Apple, when Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, HP and Amazon all outsource manufacturing at this plant? I really believe that Apple is doing every thing in their power to improve working conditions; change is not going to happen over night. The public does, however, need to keep the pressure on Apple to make sure that real progress continues. The Chinese government also has to care enough about its people to enforce the labor laws.

  • I would not be surprised if these allegations turned out to be true. It is a shame that poor working conditions still exist in many places around the world, but this is nothing new. As far as boycotting Apple products, I don’t know if I would ever be able to seeing as how almost everything I own is Apple. However, this definitely puts Apple in a negative light.