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Some Critics Suggest Apple Boycott Over Chinese Working Conditions

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the compared-to-what-exactly dept.

Businesses 744

Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that Apple's image is taking a dive after revelations in the NY Times about working conditions in the factories of some of its network of Chinese suppliers and the dreaded word 'boycott' has started to appear in media coverage of Apple's activities. 'Should consumers boycott Apple?' asked a column in the Los Angeles Times as it recounted details of the bad PR fallout amid detailed allegations that workers at Foxconn suffered in conditions that resembled a modern version of bonded labor, working obscenely long shifts in unhealthy conditions with few of the labor rights that workers in the west would take for granted." Read on, below.Pickens continues: "But Apple has come out fighting, which is no surprise given the remarkable success that the company has seen in recent years with its reputation for 'cool' among hip urban professionals and a generally positive corporate image. In a lengthy email sent to Apple staff, chief executive Tim Cook met the allegations head-on. '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,' Cook said. He went on to slam critics of the company. 'Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us ... accusations like these are contrary to our values.' So will we see some kind of movement to boycott Apple products, akin to the campaign several years ago to pressure Nike to improve working conditions in its factories asks Sam Gustin in Time Magazine? "You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, or you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards," an anonymous current Apple executive told the Times. "And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.""

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744 comments

Good luck getting the protestors to support that (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864333)

If the sheer number of Apple devices at any given Occupy protest are any indication, it would seem the professional protestors who usually lead this kind of thing are going to bend over backwards to give Apple a free pass on just about anything. Christ, there were Occupy protestors CRYING the day Steve Jobs died--even as they rallied against our corporate overlords (with no sense of the irony at all). So unless you can sell them on the idea that Tim Cook has somehow corrupted their beloved Apple in the last few months, I would say your chances are pretty much nil.

And this isn't meant as flamebait. Seriously, go to an Occupy protest sometime and just look at the sheer number of Mac's, iPhones, and iPads you'll see. It's fucking creepy. They've been for shit at organizing on any other point, but they've apparently almost all agreed on at least *one* thing.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (5, Funny)

UberJugend (2519392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864371)

"Dude you're a barista"

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864389)

"Dude you're a nigger"

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (5, Interesting)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864379)

Your flame bait rant aside....Just read the comments from Apple executives. They're enough to make you smash Apple products you own.

The NYT article brings to light conditions and tragedies that many people did not know about. It's hard to ignore these images.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (5, Insightful)

lambent (234167) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864395)

These articles regarding Apple's labour practices have been fairly regular for years, now. It's not that many people did not know about it; it's that many people choose not to care about it.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (4, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864467)

Alot of what was mentioned in the NY Times is new information. Describing worker dormitories, describing what Apple expected from the company to make a last minute product line changes; quoting Apple executives praising the working conditions.

Combined with this news and Apple's 4Q financial reports, show's Apple in a very bad light. A very profitable company that doesn't care about the conditions of workers.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (5, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864761)

You know what will fix this and bring jobs back to the USA? Accountability.
Accountability for what your outsourced partner is doing, accountability for the third party you hire, and accountability for their working conditions on the same level with the USAs internal standards.

Boycott? pppffttt... how about real punishment.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864627)

Your flame bait rant aside....Just read the comments from Apple executives. They're enough to make you smash Apple products you own.

Agreed. It's one thing to make your products in factories operating under those conditions, but the apple exutive seemed to be so proud of the fact that they have near-slaves building their products when he described the condition under which they work. I can't even imagine what he was thinking when he described all that the way he did. A normal person holds back when talking about something they know other people probably wouldn't approve of, especially when it's a major corporation with a public image to uphold. He seemed oblivious to the fact that people might not approve. I couldn't decide if he was clueless or a sociopath.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (4, Informative)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864383)

If the sheer number of Apple devices at any given Occupy protest are any indication, it would seem the professional protestors who usually lead this kind of thing are going to bend over backwards to give Apple a free pass on just about anything. Christ, there were Occupy protestors CRYING the day Steve Jobs died--even as they rallied against our corporate overlords (with no sense of the irony at all). So unless you can sell them on the idea that Tim Cook has somehow corrupted their beloved Apple in the last few months, I would say your chances are pretty much nil.

And this isn't meant as flamebait. Seriously, go to an Occupy protest sometime and just look at the sheer number of Mac's, iPhones, and iPads you'll see. It's fucking creepy. They've been for shit at organizing on any other point, but they've apparently almost all agreed on at least *one* thing.

I am surprised that the Apple community does not go after Apple about wages like other did about the Nike plants outside the USA. Some recent article about Steve Jobs quoted an Apple executive saying paying US wages in mainland China (instead of $17/day) would only increase the price of an iPad by $70.

Wrong answer... (5, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864547)

Some recent article about Steve Jobs quoted an Apple executive saying paying US wages in mainland China (instead of $17/day) would only increase the price of an iPad by $70.

And if you were going to pay US wages you could always, I don't know, build the damn thing in America?

I'm not exactly a Buy American nazi, but if the flagship products of greenwashing high-end manufacturers can't be built here, then what can?

Re:Wrong answer... (4, Informative)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864629)

Some recent article about Steve Jobs quoted an Apple executive saying paying US wages in mainland China (instead of $17/day) would only increase the price of an iPad by $70.

And if you were going to pay US wages you could always, I don't know, build the damn thing in America?

I'm not exactly a Buy American nazi, but if the flagship products of greenwashing high-end manufacturers can't be built here, then what can?

Maybe not. The Chinese allow business to setup differently than we do here in America:
See this recent NYT article. [nytimes.com]

It is hard to estimate how much more it would cost to build iPhones in the United States. However, various academics and manufacturing analysts estimate that because labor is such a small part of technology manufacturing, paying American wages would add up to $65 to each iPhone’s expense. Since Apple’s profits are often hundreds of dollars per phone, building domestically, in theory, would still give the company a healthy reward.

No you cannot (4, Informative)

coder111 (912060) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864675)

There were several articles about why Apple doesn't build its hardware in US any more- I'm too tired to google them for you right now. It's not so much about wages, but more about scalability of production, flexibility and supply lines. It was completely impossible to set up manufacturing quickly and do last minute changes scale it up rapidly the way Foxconn did anywhere in US- sometimes at human cost. One of the reasons was that Foxconn had workers living in barracks to be woken up and shuffled into the factories when needed. And they had A LOT of workers, including qualified engineers available. Another reason is that almost all of the suppliers of components are in China already, so supply lines for parts are much shorter.

The article even mentioned Obama personally asking Steve Jobs what it would take to get manufacturing back to US, and the answer was it was no longer possible.

--Coder

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (2, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864553)

Only increase the price of an iPad by $70.

Just to play Devil's Advocate here, while you may be willing to pay $70 more does that mean everyone else will? A standard of living is effectively defined as being how much money you make versus how much of that money you have to spend to acquire goods. To pay more for electronics is tantamount to a decrease in the standard of living for westerners, and no one is going to be in favor of giving up their standard of living.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864709)

iPods, iPads, Macbooks, iPhones, etc all cost significantly more than the competition then and mostly now(yes, you can get a years old 3GS for 1 penny on a contract, but not a 4S). You can charge $70 more and I'm sure you'll do okay. I mean, if people will pay $200 for an iPod when you can get a Sansa that plays even more formats for 25% of that, why not $250? It's not like they don't have a ridiculous margin per device to operate with.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (0, Troll)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864753)

while you may be willing to pay $70 more does that mean everyone else will?

I would, but it's is moronic to think that paying a US worker $20-$30 an hour as opposed to paying a Chinese person $17 a day would only increase the price of the iPad $70.

More importantly, there is currently NO organization in the United States that could manufacture 10,000 devices a day, like they do at Foxconn. The backlash against supply shortages would be more damning than a $70 price increase.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (5, Insightful)

August_zero (654282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864447)

"And this isn't meant as flamebait. "

And yet it is.

Apple isn't getting a free pass, a lot of people are just not very well informed about the matter. Now that Apple's manufacturing practices are becoming better known, there is a growing back lash. Will it last? Maybe, maybe not. The truth is that the electronic devices like smart phones, computers and tablets are a part of everyday life in the US for a very large part of the population. Convincing people that they need to pay more for these devices isn't an easy cause to champion.

I am not even sure what the point of your comment was outside of a thinly veiled stab at a political movement that you obviously disagree with. Should everyone give a free pass to Apple just because you produced an anecdote that occupy protesters use too many apple devices?

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864663)

I am not even sure what the point of your comment was outside of a thinly veiled stab at a political movement that you obviously disagree with.

Quite the contrary. I strongly support the idea of fighting corporatocracy. But if the movement is ever going to achieve anything it's going to have to be much more CONSISTENT and MAINSTREAM. Consistent means that selected corps like Apple and Democratic politicians don't get free passes. Mainstream means that the movement has to be more than just the standard hippie and drum-circle crowd (and no hippies guarding the gates with a "We don't want to let in any poseurs who don't even own a hemp shirt" attitude).

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (2, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864465)

I used to think that people wanted American products without American price tags. Apple has convinced me that the problem is a lot more difficult to define. People will pay outrageous prices for certain things, but everything else has to be dirt cheap.

Just searching for "apple margin iphone" shows that they are taking maybe 35%, down from 60% earlier. I find it hard to believe that hiring US workers would bring it down considerably. The design and development cost wouldn't change, just the profit margin.

Of course, the stock is ridiculously high due to these margins, so some Americans are benefitting. The ones who already have money to invest, that is.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (1, Insightful)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864579)

Heath and safety is expensive.

In china, someone dies, you have a funeral.

In the USA, someone dies, you have a court case, a huge investigation going on for months, and the media turns and bites you.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (3, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864487)

What's idiotic about this is that every tech company gets its products made by the same factories. Why are they proposing boycotting apple, not boycotting all tech companies?

Oh, that's right, because boycotting all tech companies would be impossible to make happen, and apple are an easy scapegoat.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864647)

not true. Many electronics are made in democratic countries, though, most in asia. For instance, my smartphone (samsung) is made in korea. My computer is made in Taiwan. I try to avoid chinese made goods when possible.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864687)

What's idiotic about this is that every tech company gets its products made by the same factories. Why are they proposing boycotting apple, not boycotting all tech companies?

Oh, that's right, because boycotting all tech companies would be impossible to make happen, and apple are an easy scapegoat.

Apple is becoming insanely rich off of these factories, which makes them the easiest target.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (5, Informative)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864713)

Did you read the NYT article?

You didn't? I'm shocked.

If you had, you would have realised that the other tech companies often pay these manufacturers more money to be spent on improving work conditions, whereas Apple chooses to squeeze them for every dirty brown penny, which inevitably leads to cuts in worker pay and conditions.

If you'd read the article you would also know that whilst Apple has a very pretty code of conduct for their suppliers, it is common for them to simply ignore infractions of that code of conduct, with fewer than 15 suppliers terminated for non-compliance since 2007, even though there are scores of the most serious breaches of that code of conduct recorded every year.

Apple does a lot of talking about worker safety, but they don't do a whole lot of walking.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864741)

Maybe the Apple fanboys don't have to sit at home fixing and patching their computers all the time... They actually can go outside and do something.

To the point though, I think they are going after Apple because if they change, it will hopefully change everyone else too. Or start a 2nd worker revolution...

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (4, Insightful)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864749)

Ah so you state that people are not totally consitent in their behavior. While they have accepted that corporations are not working in the public interest (at least their motivation is not the public interest, but their own pockets), they are still bound by their desires and wishes and they live out their projections. This is definitely true. but it is true for all of us. Some people even do not accept simple facts, like we have an energy consuption and a resource consumption problem. And we have to change our way or it will become problematic to have such thing as our present society.

The real thing is, we have to change (not the others, if we wait for them, they will wait for us). Meaning I have to change how I live. And you should change how you live. And doing these changes are hard. And yes we should thin twice buying anything from Apple again as long they have that production agenda and they have their locked plattforms. However, it might be complicated, because Samsung, HTC and others manufacture their devices i nthe same or similar shops.

The best thing to do, do not buy a new phone unless the old is broken. And if possible, replace the battery if you can instead of throwing the thing away.

The good thing about that occupy movement (as far as I can see it from over here), they might be open to arguments. Therefor, they might understand the arguments againts Apple.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (0)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864759)

HAH, I'm pleased to see the first post in my view contained exactly what I was going to write concerning the Apple devices at the Occupy protests. Thank you for that.

Re:Good luck getting the protestors to support tha (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864769)

Yes, the Occupy protesters demanding that people be paid a more decent wage, and executives and financial speculators less, are a bunch of hypocrites for using products made in sweatshops that grossly underpay their workers and keep them working in horrible conditions.

And so are the rest of us if we care about the issue of fair labor practices but still pick the "Made in China" product for 10% cheaper than the "Made in Country X with Sane Labor Laws". Welcome to "globalization" of markets, which we've been told for going on 20 or 30 years would be better for everybody. In reality it is much better for the people at the top, and it is the same or worse for everybody else, because companies will gladly exploit their workers when the law allows them to do so. This occurs despite promises that the economic value would "trickle down" to everyone: not if labor laws let you dam the natural flow of money to employees that should occur as a business thrives.

This is a deeper problem than Apple and underpaid workers in China, and every time we settle for a less-than-or-equal-to-inflation pay rate increase or buy the cheapest product regardless of where or how it is made, we're feeding into the attitude that the biggest economic benefits are mainly for executives and investors, not for the employees. While it is very difficult as a consumer to make informed decisions about purchases when we don't know how employees are treated, it could be done with more rigorous international labor laws and standardized labeling of products to reflect the labor laws in the relevant country. Give people the ability to choose a product that meets the highest labor standards, and maybe people will be willing to pay a little more for it. Keep them in the dark, and they'll pay the same price the market will bear, but most of the money will go to the people at the top. We need to change things so that the power of consumer choice can start to influence labor practices, because the current law obviously isn't up to the task. This gives some countries an unfair market advantage because they can treat their employees like !@#%!%^. All companies, not just Apple, should have to face consumer opinion about the labor practices used to make their products.

A long list of reasons (4, Insightful)

improfane (855034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864343)

To those who have been watching Apple for years, this is just a long list of transgressions that make it obvious to avoid Apple.

- Walled gardens, vendor lock in
- Taking down applications from the App Store and including versions in iOS
- Spurious litigation and anti-competitive lawsuits in Germany and Australia
- CarrierIQ, GPS tracking privacy gaffes
- Planned failure just after warranty period (ever since the original pod)

When you think of products that are so anti consumer (not necessarily anti-usability), Apple comes to mind. As for many here, it's just business as usual as I will never buy an Apple product (especially after the first pod) anyway.

Re:A long list of reasons (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864559)

What kind of phone and computer are you using at this *very* moment? Are you 100% certain that the factories in which they were produced are *any* better than Foxconn? If not, then you might want to get off your high horse. It was probably made in a Chinese factory too (and may contain lead paint).

Re:A long list of reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864693)

In that case, it is okay to screw people over, since every one is already doing it. What kind of logic is that? Why funny you get ON a high house, and have some
  principles?

Hungary (2)

improfane (855034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864725)

My phone says it was made in Hungary but I imagine it was only assembled there and the components were made in China. The battery was made in China. Unfortunate but an improvement over a completely Chinese manufactured device.

Re:A long list of reasons (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864763)

Walled Gardens. This keeps getting touted as a negative. Are you fucking kidding? I LOVE Apple's walled garden!

I'm a Flash developer fed up with Chinese sites tearing our games off our site and hosting them for free.

Where else can I go to make a game by myself, sell it, and not have a cracked version appear on pirate bay shortly after?

It would be a good start (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864347)

Next, boycott anyone who can't guarantee their workers receive a decent standard of living...

Re:It would be a good start (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864387)

Next, boycott anyone who can't guarantee their workers receive a decent standard of living...

So you're saying go back to only using what you can harvest/make yourself.

Re:It would be a good start (4, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864401)

Exactly. Because even though we know Apple's workers conditions are shit, we have no idea how other phone manufacturers fare. Like with all other tech in the mainstream press, if it's not Apple, it just isn't a story.

Re:It would be a good start (5, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864539)

Actually, we have a very good idea, in the exact same factories covered in the articles, are Dell production lines, and Nokia production lines... We know exactly what the conditions are like, because they all use the exact same giant factories. Which just makes a call to boycot apple alone retarded.

Re:It would be a good start (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864701)

I couldn't agree more, before you single out Apple (most of these articles focus on the fact that they use Foxconn as a supplier): got checkout some of the other companies who get stuff made in the exact same factories: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn#Major_customers

Re:It would be a good start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864729)

Of course it's retarded. The geekverse is composed primarily of medium to high functioning autistics. This is a community where your entire worth as a human being is what you can do at a command line, and absolutely nothing else matters.

Re:It would be a good start (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864461)

OK, just never buy any electronics of any kind and you should be all set. I hate Apple, but singling them out in this mess is ridiculous, kind of like it was when we singled out Nike for having the same factory conditions as every other apparel maker in the world. Except this is even worse than Nike, because at least Nike owned the factories in question, and they made Nike apparel exclusively. Foxconn makes parts for dozens of companies including Amazon, Cisco, Dell, HP, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Nintendo, Samsung, Sharp and Sony. And yet somehow this is an Apple problem and we should boycott them and them exclusively? And not only that, but compared to the other Chinese electronics manufacturers, working conditions at Foxconn are supposedly pretty reasonable. Which means that the companies not on that list probably have worse working conditions at their factories, but somehow get a free pass.

Re:It would be a good start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864555)

But aren't these workers getting a decent standard of living? Certainly better than they would have without the factory, right? I haven't heard allegations that workers are being forced to stay. They want to work there (it is better than their other choices), right?

Relative to other businesses operating in China? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864361)

Wow. Poor working conditions in a Chinese factory? I'd never have guessed.

The question is, how does this compare to other factories in China? Better or worse? Because if the working conditions at Apple's Chinese partners are on par with or better than the conditions at other Chinese factories, then we had better boycott *all* Chinese-produced products and not just those shiny Apple toys.

Yay! Linux is free... but it still runs on hardware produced in a Chinese factory.

Re:Relative to other businesses operating in China (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864439)

"All these other plants are horrible as well so we should just accept the perhaps slightly less horribleness of Apple's plant conditions."

Nope. If true (and it very well could be), that means the problem is bigger, which means we need to fight harder to solve it, not just roll over.

Re:Relative to other businesses operating in China (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864479)

Nope. That's Chinas problem to solve. It none of our business.

Re:Relative to other businesses operating in China (0)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864497)

Better. You just need to cross the street to go to foxconn's competitor. Literally. And yet most people go for it - because it pays better, and it is a little better, too.

Re:Relative to other businesses operating in China (0)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864659)

Unfortunately this entire "outrage" is an example of your typical American Latte drinker peering out from their ivory tower and all agreeing that "something should be done" without understanding the basic market principles or the context of that which they judge. Are the conditions are Foxconn bad? Compared to American standards, yes. Compared to Chinese standards the workers at Foxconn are privileged and it is an amazing job to have. Before you start punishing companies that rise above the average in working conditions, you should go after the sub par and average companies if you really want to exercise your heart-bleed.

Re:Relative to other businesses operating in China (4, Insightful)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864739)

It may be true that all products from China are produced under similar conditions so the people building samsungs and acers have it just as bad as those building iStuff. However, some of Apple's success is attributed to the massive quantities they purchase and how they hold great power over manufacturers to drive their cost down. I'd say this also makes apple the most effective target for a boycott. Their control as the single buyer of vast numbers of parts puts them in the unique position to be able to improve working conditions. Instead of saying "we'll buy 50,000,000 LCD screens if you reduce the cost by 3% or sell to us exclusively" they could say "we'll buy 50,000,000 screens if you stop making workers live in pens and let them have friends/unionize". Of course, the only reason they would do such a crazy thing would be because of a massive boycott. It would seem that if you care about how your stuff is made, your best bet is to go after the biggest fish.

They all do it. why just apple? (2, Insightful)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864375)

What a ridiculous article to single out Apple when all the manufacturers take advantage of cheap labor. This has been going on for hundreds of years and is really nothing new.

Unless everyone is willing to spend a significant more on almost product (tech or non-tech based) this won't change.

Re:They all do it. why just apple? (3, Informative)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864413)

You're saving 20%. Hardly a significant amount and Apple still maintains a 60% to 70% profit margin.

Re:They all do it. why just apple? (4, Interesting)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864429)

It is also hypocritical for America to refuse to buy products manufactured in china but not America, considering America has kept slave labor around for years, we just call it prison labor. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289 [globalresearch.ca]

Re:They all do it. why just apple? (4, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864733)

I won't whitewash this "American slave labor", but I wonder if the prison laborers are subjected to very long work days (6 days, 60 hours), toxic chemicals, and other safety risks that would not fly elsewhere in America? Are the prisoners doing this work typically 12 and 13yr old girls?

If you're in prison, you didn't just wake up there one day. You got there for a reason. As a felon, you lose rights (voting, guns, etc). They are paid a very meager wage according to your article, but I'm just saying that even on balance, the Chinese workers probably STILL have it worse.

Re:They all do it. why just apple? (3, Insightful)

lambent (234167) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864457)

You're being obtusely hyperbolic.

1. All the manufacturers don't take advantage of this. And most of them aren't as bad as Apple.

2. This hasn't been going on for hundreds of years; the world hasn't had a global economic environment for hundreds of years. It's been going on for a few decades.

3. Improving conditions in manufacturing plants in China probably wouldn't lead to a significant increase in price. As someone else mentioned in the comments, paying Chinese workers American pay rates for their labour would increase the cost of an iPad by $70. Compared to the price of the device, one may call this significant or not. Merely making the conditions of the Chinese labourers not completely and utterly horrifying would probably only increase the cost per unit by a few bucks, at most.

You're making up shit. Knock it off.

Re:They all do it. why just apple? (2, Interesting)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864583)

1. All the manufacturers don't take advantage of this. And most of them aren't as bad as Apple.

Name one tech hardware company that doesn't. Hint – in the exact same factory you'll find lines making XBoxes for MS, phones for Nokia, computers for Dell.

3. Improving conditions in manufacturing plants in China probably wouldn't lead to a significant increase in price. As someone else mentioned in the comments, paying Chinese workers American pay rates for their labour would increase the cost of an iPad by $70. Compared to the price of the device, one may call this significant or not.

That sure as hell is significant if I can have a Dell tablet for $500, or an apple one for $570 ;)

Because Apple charges enough to be made in America (5, Insightful)

deanklear (2529024) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864533)

Apple's margins are 40-50% in some of their devices, and by accepting the profit margins common thoughout the industry, or marginally increasing their own prices, they could all be built in the US. Instead of being a good citizen (corporations are people too!) and helping get our economy back on its feet by increasing domestic manufacturing, Apple is simply pocketing the difference. That's why they have one hundred billion dollars in the bank.

Additionally, Apple is very brand conscious. If people start boycotting and picketing Apple Stores, the protest could actually work. The other manufacturers like Lenovo and Dell and Microsoft have some retail presence, but nothing like Apple.

Re:They all do it. why just apple? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864561)

The fact that "all" (I doubt it) of them do it, or that it's an old practice, doesn't mean that it's objectively okay. I don't think it even means that it's not a worthy reason to boycott Apple (and then probably any others who do the same thing afterwards, or perhaps even at the same time).

Re:They all do it. why just apple? (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864613)

This [nytimes.com]

It is hard to estimate how much more it would cost to build iPhones in the United States. However, various academics and manufacturing analysts estimate that because labor is such a small part of technology manufacturing, paying American wages would add up to $65 to each iPhone’s expense. Since Apple’s profits are often hundreds of dollars per phone, building domestically, in theory, would still give the company a healthy reward.

Foxxcon in Brazil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864399)

Brazil is the worst fucking place in the whole world.
Big-assed whores and thieves.

Everybody in Brazil should die, slowly.

Re:Foxxcon in Brazil (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864551)

Although I partially agree with you on your statements (as I am brazilian myself), and given the fact that most people die slowly from the day they are born, I wonder what was the intention of this comment.

Boycott Foxconn? (4, Insightful)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864403)

All of these articles about Apple's supply chain seem to ignore one fact: Apple's aren't the only products made in these factories.

Want to boycott horrific working conditions? Stop buying everything. Even Made in America products have parts or raw materials from overseas sweatshops. Electricity in the United States is typically powered by coal, which routinely ignores safety regulations.

The problem isn't Apple. The problem is lax governmental regulation that allows this to happen. Want to stop Apple from using sweatshops? Want to stop Google and Facebook from tracking your every move? Make it illegal, and enforce the damned law.

Boycott? (5, Insightful)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864417)

I am really confused about this. My Android handset was made in China under Foxconn like condition if not at Foxconn itself. If we are going to boycott Apple on this, shouldn't we boycott every Android handset\tablet, along with a shit ton of other electronics that we all know and use daily?

Seriously, I don't understand why boycott just apple on this. Shouldn't we boycott ALL chinese manufactured electronics? A broader movement maybe?

Re:Boycott? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864501)

At least Apple is making a vague attempt at bringing things back home with the A5 chip plant in Texas opening soon. With crossed fingers I have been suspicious it is part of a broader initiative on there part to slowly bring even more back to the good old USA.

Re:Boycott? (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864519)

Let's put it this way. Would you boycott "Small Fish" or "Big Fish©®tm"? Which one has more possibilities to appear in media and thus have any chance to deliver a message if at all?

Re:Boycott? (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864703)

er... I wouldn't call Sony, Nokia, Microsoft, HP, Dell or IBM small fish AT ALL.

And all of them are made altogether with Apple stuff.

Re:Boycott? (-1, Flamebait)

phayes (202222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864521)

It's just the Apple haters looking for another excuse to hate. As you noticed, all they need is the excuse, it doesn't even have to be logically coherent.

Re:Boycott? (3, Insightful)

clifyt (11768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864577)

Same with Dell who's laptops are made there, as are Compaq's and HP's, and Microsoft's products including the Xbox 360 -- in which the factory where Apple was getting all the hate because Foxcon employees were threatening suicide weren't even manufacturing Apple products -- but the XBOX360 and Kinect in the ramp up to Christmas.

Its funny that Apple gets all the shit, when in fact, they make up a small part of this company's output -- and they are the only ones that for the last several years have been asking for reports from the companies involved, been actively reducing child labor (they fired a company that was found to have child labor two years in a row), they have asked the wages of the employees making the devices in these companies be raised (far more than the ones making the XBOX products), and are actively trying to change the culture. Last year, a lot of the products that were being manufactured by hand were transitioned to robots because of the repetitive nature of the task...and were shit on for 'firing employees' when they did this.

Its fucked up how much Apple gets shit on with this...its like Greenpeace going after Apple and listing them lower when their practices were far better than any other manufacture with Greenpeace first stating that they were looking for improvement from a baseline (i.e., where was the company a few years ago vs. now...not who is actually better), and then pretty much admitting it was a publicity stunt because of Apple's image...never actually admitting that their products were far ahead of the competition.

That said, I would fucking shoot myself in the head if I had to work in conditions like in Foxcon...that is if my family wasn't fined for me doing so and put into prison camps to pay for my crime against society. Even the best fucking sucks...

Re:Boycott? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864685)

I think a boycott is wrong we should impose trade sanctions until the United States is assured that people are treated well. If any country that trades with the US is found to be in violation of international human rights, or maybe even american human rights, then the US will increase tariffs on that country. I'm sure the international trade organization will be fine with that.

Sup Bonch (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864423)

Eat your heart out, bonchy-babe.

For the N-th time: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864443)

There is no reason to single-out Apple. Foxconn et al do not manufacture exclusively for Apple.
You could make the argument that Apple makes a lot of money off it but you should then move to ban all outsourcing of manufacturing to regions that are not that keen on worker conditions.

Guess what: not gonna happen. Everybody from left to right wants to have their cake and eat it too. Including myself.

Re:For the N-th time: (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864567)

And your a douche bag. There fixed that for you.

Re:For the N-th time: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864653)

If having self-knowledge and conceding that i'm as bad as the rest is being a douchebag, then yes i'm a douchebag. Because you are running around the world fixing all problems because you care about every single human being in the world aren't you?

Don't conclude anything about someone because you might have misinterpreted a few lines written on the internet.

Basic economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864451)

Unfortunately, people boycotting this do not care about chinese condtions; they care about THEIR conditions. That fact is that for Chinese working for apple (or foxconn) is a huge win. For people boycotting them it would be a loss; however, if foxconn moves their operation to some place with a different productivity/cost ratio, because low prod/low cost would be prohibited, the chinese would be worse off; but the 'wealthy' people boycotting apple might get a job; they may end up better off.
I won't boycott apple for this, I applaud apple for doing this and I want more companies invest and building sweat-shops in these countries. The people out there are incredibly poor; I want them to be better. And they do get a better life by working in these factories. BTW: they _CAN_ refuse and continue to live in the abject poverty they live today. They do have an option. I want them to have the option; by boycotting and otherwise fighting against sweatshops I am stripping them of these options.

Re:Basic economics (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864535)

Really? You do realize if any Chinese worker wants to form a union - you know to improve their working conditions - they go to jail. It's a crime to form a union.

NPR This American Life Coverage (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864455)

Before the NYT article (and CBS Sunday Morning yesterday), NPR's This American Life helped break the story. It's a good listen: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/454/mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory

An interesting point made at the end of the NPR program is that, although working conditions are bad, the availability of these jobs is *still* a step up from working a subsistence living in the rice paddies. In particular, these jobs have given reasonable salaries to, and hence empowered, women.

People would be boycotting the wrong thing (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864471)

The problem is the companies are attracted to the WalMart prices for labor... or more precisely, "manufacturing services." The companies pay for results and get them. It doesn't matter that they murder kittens in those facilities does it?

The boycott, if any, should be against China... more specifically, Chinese manufacturing. This is precisely how they can cost so little. If they were to raise their standards, they would be more expensive and suddenly less attractive. And the only real way around this is to call for government support and sanctions.

The US government is well aware of the conditions in China. They still have favored nation status where trading is concerned. Everyone wants their WalMart prices badly enough to look away when faced with violations of human rights and simply bad and unhealthy working conditions.

These cost savings enjoyed by Apple doesn't seem to translate well into lower prices though...

Re:People would be boycotting the wrong thing (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864609)

Boycotting China wouldn't help.

The root problem is China is a communist state with a restrictive market that prevents people from "shopping around" and getting the best prices possible for their labor.

The west has boycotted North Korea for several years and because of that human rights violations are nearly non-existent, North Korea now has a thriving economy and freely elected leaders... Oh wait... Because of North Korea's isolation they've descended even deeper into leader worship, further behind in technology and have even worse human rights abuses.

Due to western trade with China in the past few years China has become more free. Trade and free markets create more free people. Yes, China still has a long way to go but they have made substantial progress.

Trade with China is a good thing, both for the Chinese citizens (keep in mind that without factory labor they would be working most likely in worse conditions in agriculture) and for western citizens.

comunism and working conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864505)

Supposedly communism was a way of taking power from capitalists so that all people are treated equally with the expectation that worker would be better off. But it always seems strange to me that China today (and always) has been associated with harsh working conditions.

What is the purpose of comunism if the working conditions are worse than in capitalist countries?

Boycott Apple and buy from who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864507)

Is there an alternative?
I doubt there are any gadgets/laptops/computers aimed at the general consumer assembled by workers making a living wage.
There are just too many people who live in total squalor and dream of getting a 60 hours a week, 100$ a month job.

Let's be clear about this (3, Informative)

Azuaron (1480137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864511)

The Chinese sweatshop Apple employs for the iEverythings is Foxconn. Other stuff Foxconn works on/componies Foxconn works for:

  • Playstation 3
  • XBox 360
  • Wii
  • Kindle
  • Nook
  • Acer
  • Asus
  • Dell
  • HP
  • Intel
  • IBM
  • Motorola
  • Netgear
  • Every other technology company ever.

If you're not buying from a company that uses Foxconn, you're not buying tech.

Buy Apple and Chattel Credits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864529)

Offset the slave labor jobs by paying for a Silicon Valley cool job.

But everybody does it! (1)

awjr (1248008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864531)

To quote:
"Apple is not alone among electronic companies employing Foxconn and other such plants."

However, Apple (and to a lesser extent other electronic companies) can insist on certain standards. I believe that Apple looks at the cost model (wages, part costs etc) and then dictates how much profit companies like Foxconn can make per assembly. If Apple insisted on a certain standard of welfare and provided money into their costing specifically for this ( I believe HP do this), then this issue would go away.

What has surprised me is that Apple have not set up their own manufacturing bases in China/Brazil. Then it dawned on me. If Apple partner with Foxconn et al, then they are able to blame their partners, even though Apple are intrinsically involved in dictating precisely what these partners are allowed to charge Apple for producing their products.

Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864557)

I was recently having a conversation with some co-workers about developing mobile apps. I was told that if I want to make money I should give up on Android and develop apps for the apple app store.
I realized that I have never purchased an apple product in my life and don't intend to. It's not that the products are bad, it's that apple itself is bad. If I bought any apple product, no matter how small, I would feel as if I were a part of the problem.
Even if I don't have much power to be part of a real solution in this world the least I can do is make sure I'm not part of the problem.
I think a boycott would go far to send a message to Apple, that being said I still wouldn't buy any apple products even if they cleaned up their act and started behaving civil toward the rest of humanity because I'd know that the only reason they did so was to increase sales.

maybe, just occupy apple's campus instead... (1)

swframe (646356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864569)

The problem isn't specific to apple but they are the poster child and a protest there would produce the most press. With record breaking profits, it would be awesome if apple spent more to improve working conditions in china.

This American Life 454 (2)

vic.tz (1000138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864571)

This American Life did a piece earlier this month on working conditions at Foxconn called "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory":

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/454/mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory [thisamericanlife.org]

I don't remember the details, but a couple economists at the end shrug off the horrible conditions because the whole process of industrialization benefits the population overall. It sucks, but they're better off for it. They note that while the manufacturing industry made it over to China, workers rights didn't go with it, but conditions ARE improving. It's a good listen if you have an hour.

Mud-Slinging Opportunists (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864593)

I'm willing to bet the source for the allegations has an Android or Windows phone in his pocket.

As a side note, several years ago, it was reported that a company in California was busted because the workers were wearing adult diapers so that the manufacturing line didn't have to be stopped for piss breaks.

Re:Mud-Slinging Opportunists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864679)

Nope - no windows phone, no android phone, just a plain phone, phone. My disgust and hate for Apple anything comes from the days of the Apple IIc - when they made a contract with the company behind the Laser 128 computer. They were an Apple clone manufacturer. They sold for a 3rd of the cost of an Apple and outperformed them. Apple was losing money hand over fist because they couldn't get past their greed and lower their prices to match the competition, so they breached their contract with Laser and made it so they couldn't make any more of them.

Apple - always a bad company.

NY Times FUD (5, Informative)

DaveyJJ (1198633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864595)

Actually, it wasn't very nice of the NY Times to not put the stats they used to suggest a boycott of Apple into any sort of context. So I'll do that for them ... 18 suicides per million workers at Foxconn? OK, that's very sad, but the Chinese national average is 220 per million. More than 12X higher. 7 fatal workplace injuries per million workers at Foxconn? Agains, tragic. But the US(!) national average is 35. 5X more. Average salary for production workers at Foxconn only $6,000? To us privileged Westerners, that seems like a pittance. The average for China as a whole? $4,500 or 25% less than Foxconn workers. I'm not suggesting that Foxconn is a dream job, without harsh conditions etc etc. But to not provide context for your statistics is disingeous at best, and deliberately dishonest at worst. And what, exactly, would a boycott actually do?

Re:NY Times FUD (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864631)

Exactly. There seems to be this weird idea that without Foxconn millions of Chinese workers would be frolicking around making $150,000 or so a year. Not so. Instead most of them would be working in even more hazardous conditions in agriculture for much less pay.

Of course we should and do and have been... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864603)

Never owned an Apple product, never will.

Garbage, pure and simple... You know the old saying, Garbage in, Garbage out? That's Apple to the core.

Now, put a slave/sweatshop import tax on those products equivelent to $1000.00 per device and let's see how cheap chinese manufacturing is...

This idea is broken (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864605)

It's based on the idea that by switching from one brand to another, the costumer has freedom and power.

That's not the case if the whole market is shaped by a race to the bottom. Foxconn does in fact produce many of the Android devices, and their competitors are no different. You won't get far asking an individual maker to fall on their sword to make positive changes that their competitors won't. Those that do usually go into niche markets.

It takes a societal agreement with government-enforced teeth to do anything about this. I want my devices produced free of toxins for fair wages with a long life expectancy and a recycling plan, and the manufacturers should be able to do this without expecting to be undercut.

What's the cheapest Apple product? (5, Funny)

Harold Halloway (1047486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864615)

I need to know what the cheapest Apple product is, please? The reason is, I'm pretty penniless right now so boycotting e.g. a MacBook would be an empty gesture as I can't afford one anyway. However if I can refuse to buy something that I could afford e.g. an iPod Shuffle or an iPhone dock or something then I'm right behind you, sisters.

SOPA (1)

atarzwell (1111137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864623)

No one boycotted them for supporting SOPA. Why do you think something that doesn't affect white america will make the Apple sheep put down their lattes and take action?

Perspective (4, Insightful)

Pausanias (681077) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864625)

A Chinese commenter to the NYT site said that if people had known the lives of these people prior to Foxconn, they would come to the opposite condition and call Apple philanthropists.

Let's organize the protests using iPhones and Macs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864667)

Crazy talk.

Note that it isn't just Apple using slave labor. Dell, Samsung, Levono, HP.... the list is endless.

A better question. (3, Insightful)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864689)

How long before people American's can't afford the product at "Made in China" prices? If nobody has a job. the boycott will come to Apple. Like it or not.

boycott apple? come on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864699)

I'm sure apple will sell 20 millions of ivibrator in 2 weeks time even if it was made in some shady factory filled with child labour.

Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38864723)

I find it funny that Apple supporters, fans, users, most of whom are liberal twats, supposedly for "the worker", blah, blah, blah, don't give a shit about anyone but themselves.

Just read their smug comments, "It's just the Apple haters looking for another excuse to hate. As you noticed, all they need is the excuse, it doesn't even have to be logically coherent.".

-translated

I'm better than you. I always will be. I'm a union member. I'm a Liberal. I have a cat. I know everything. Everyone is evil except me. The logo is green so I am too!

"Everyone is doing it" (2, Insightful)

Harold Halloway (1047486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38864767)

I note that few of the Apple fanbois have chosen to defend Apple here. Rather they just bleat that 'everyone does it', as though that's ever been much of a justification for appalling behaviour.

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