40,000 petition Apple for "ethical" iPhone 5 manufacturing

SumOfUs has launched a petition to get Apple to create the iPhone 5 in a fully ethical manner, and has already garnered over 40,000 signatures. The petition is particularly critical of Apple's use of n-hexane, a harmful glass cleaner which can cause neurological damage over long-term exposure. Inhumanely-long working hours are also called into question.

Apple CEO Tim Cook remains adamant that the company is doing its best to ensure the well-being of manufacturing employees abroad. Even within the fast-paced technology sector, however, Apple is well-known for cultivating a high-stress culture, and those standards are imposed on just about everybody Apple works with. Under these conditions, it's no surprise that basic humanitarian standards take a back seat to shipping a product. That said, I might agree with this petition, but I really doubt Apple or Foxconn will make any sweeping changes that hurt their bottom line.

If you're interested in signing the petition, hit the link below.

[We'll post links to the petitions for HP, Dell, Sony, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, Amazon, Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung, and every other technology company who operates in similar manners without enjoying the link-bait status that seems to drive online media attention. We want everyone held to the same, high standards. - ED]

Source: SumOfUs via The Register

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Reader comments

40,000 petition Apple for "ethical" iPhone 5 manufacturing

43 Comments

Not only would it raise the price, but all of these "petitioners" don't understand basic economics. Apple (or anybody else, doesn't matter) can only do so much to control this; it's not their responsibility to get involved in national politics... it's China and/or Foxconn that need to fix things, not Apple. Furthermore, change will necessarily come as China's economy grows, raising their opportunity cost for manual labor.

Apple made $1 billion profit per week during the holiday season. Paying them more wouldn't be a problem at all. Or MAYBE, just MAYBE Apple can bring those jobs back to America.

you don't want those jobs in America, because they wouldn't pay you enough. If you'd learn a bit about basic economics (take a college Econ 101 class...), you'd know that those kinds of jobs leaving America only means that American workers are engaged in more efficient (for Americans) labor. If we didn't have specialization of labor as nations, we'd all be a lot worse off. And please, go do your homework before trying to tell me I'm wrong, because I'm not.

that's probably not possible... the amount of money they pay the workers there is so little they would be sued for running a slave labor camp in america... and im not saying its a fair pay over there either, but its closer to far because of the value of the money + the exchange andwat not
but technically the people that build the iphone arent apple employees, they are foxconn employees.

i Suggest everyone watch the news segment Jon Stewart did on The Daily Show about Foxconn and the mistreatment of the employees. they are basically prisoners in a closed off society that do nothing but work.

So what? I want the best stuff for the cheapest price. Don't you? Of course you do. You won't pay any more than you have to for it.
Ask Wal-Mart how their buy American marketing idea went. They nearly lost their shirt! John Q. Public is looking for a deal, not unfair labor practices or environmental nightmares.
Ever see the lines at stores after Thanksgiving? Think those folks are only out for products made by "responsible" companies?

are you serious? did you attend ANY school in your life or do you realy dont know how to count? there was never an iPhone 5... apple rumors tend to grow so big that people take them as fact. iphone - iphone 3G -iphone 3Gs - iphone 4 - iphone 4s - iphone 5...etc.
the only reason people were referring to the iphone 4s as 5 because it was the normal number to jump to after 4 and it was in fact the 5th iphone.
but according to your argument that iphone 5 = 4s then why not claim that iphone 3Gs = 4 too?

i think you were too quick to jump down this guy's throat. he's merely stating that the iPhone 4S is, in fact, the fifth generation iPhone. That fact cannot be argued. so he is stating that the next iPhone should be named "iPhone 6", because it will be the sixth generation iPhone. While his comment was corny and pointless, his elementary counting skills are up to par; and he IS correct in his count.

oh... and your argument for renaming the 3G is off. the 3GS was the third generation iPhone, so it would have no reason to be named "iPhone 4". So your argument should have been, "then why not claim that iphone 3G = 2 too?" but i would imagine that you are smarter than a 5th grader and know that the 3G was dubbed as such merely for the fact that it was a 3G (speed, not gen) iPhone.

So I take it nobody is reading the supplier responsibility report Apple has posted on the FRONT PAGE of their site. Apple does more than most in this regard, and continually works to improve...which is a LOT more than a LOT of other companies do.

This. To petition Apple of all companies is just stupid. How about Sony or other manufacturers who aren't as open or honest as Apple is about these people's lives.

This is BS. It is not Apple's responsibility to monitor the welfare of another country's employees at ANY given business. Apple's responsibility lies solely with the contract set forth between itself and Foxconn. That's it. If Foxconn says, "Sure! We'll build your phone." It is not appropriate for Apple to even think, "OK, but what are the working conditions in your factory."
I guess that's the best way to sum up this petition against Apple (or any other non-Chinese business included in the petition), is that it is inappropriate.

Ding ding ding!! We have a winner!
This is about a company have a product sub-contracted to a supplier for the most economical price. It just so happens that in China, the labor practices, etc. are different from ours.

I agree this is not Apple's responsibility. I'm sure every day people are injured or die in sweat shops producing your Nike shoes etc but this flies under the radar, but of course when Apple does it its headlines.
Apple has a CONTRACT with Foxconn, Foxconn is not Apple. Apple has no duty, nor even a right, to intervene with Foxconn's operations. Two separate companies. Sure, Apple can find someone else, but not during the middle of production. It's not economically feasible.
Blame Foxconn, blame the Chinese government for not having regulations, but what does a piece of paper contract have to do with Apple being involved for outsourcing the production?

Also lets not forget Foxconn DOES make other products: Amazon Kindle, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360.
So these ignorant protesters conveniently forgot MS, Nintendo, Sony, and Amazon from the mix right? I'm sure working conditions are no better when those companies have their products produced.
People are just very ignorant, apparently 40,000+ of them.

And which company is sitting on more money than most countries and is considered to be an industry leader in "popularity" right now? Target the most popular one and get them to push for that change and the other companies will follow as well if for no other reason than to not lose moral high ground to what is already viewed as a more popular company. It's not ignoring the others, it's concentrating effort where it will have the most effect.

One more item. Let's not forget no one put a gun to anyone's head and said work at Foxconn or die. In fact, when workers protested over conditions earlier this month they were given the option to leave WITH compensation.
Every one of these workers voluntarily chose to work there and stay there, or face life on the streets in poverty. That was their chose to work there and to not leave when offered to with pay.
This is not politics for Apple to be involved in.

Agree. Foxconn isn't the only electronics manufacturer in China.
And China is, after all, the "Workers' Paradise," is it not?

When you say they have a choice to work there or live in the streets of poverty, would that not be a proverbial gun to the head? Lol, not to make light of the situation. But I know if it came down to it and my son needed to eat, and this was my ONLY option available....

I've been to China and seen for myself what the conditions are like in and out of industry. The Foxconn workers have it pretty good by Chinese standards. Wanting them to have more is an issue to take up with the Chinese government, not Apple.
Countries like India and most of Africa would love to have those businesses and would allow much harsher treatment of employees that worked there.

Giving Foxconn a fatter contract will change nothing to the (world's) current divide between the rich and the poor. However, trading with developing and third world countries will provide non-americans with economic leverage, thus tools to improve their quality of life, education and ultimately their respective goverments.
How can there be equal (human)rights without equal (economic)means?
And as for the China/Human Rights/Foxconn/Apple relationship, context IS everything:http://emkwan.com/2012/01/cbs-probes-apples-relationship-with-foxconn/

It is the responsibility of a company to use vendors that practice safe and ethical work practices. Other wise your saying it's OK to use companies that do bad things to save a buck. So if apple was buying parts from a company that used child labor it would be OK because apple doesn't own the company.. Even though it could use a company that doesn't. We're do you draw the line.

Aside from deciding whether or not to buy that company's products, its none of your business. Just be sure to hold other businesses to that same standard before voting with your money.
When you find a company willing to do business the way that makes you feel good, be prepared to pay the premium for soothing your soul. You'll need to have that good feeling in your soul to make up for the hurt in your pocketbook.

Could the high demand for the newest, greatest, latest Apple product be a major factor? We have become way too greedy in our wanting for Apple products. What are we willing to give up for better working conditions, and are we able to stop it ourselves? 40,000 signatures is one thing, but 40,0000 + people telling Apple we do not really need that new iPhone, or iPad. The old one will do. Then Apple will stop supporting devices sooner to get us to buy again. Taking a stand is a hard thing to do. Tim Cook needs to visit the factories, and see the real deal. He has the power to correct things if he wants. It may cause delays in the products, but are we willing to back him up? Things to ponder about.

One Billion people live on less than $1/day. Half the world's population live on less than $2/day.
Over 3 million people suffocate each year because they use animal dung for a heat source.
Get some perspective. Realize how good we really have it here and don't be so quick to judge what we would call sub-standard working conditions.

40k westerners signed the "ethical" manufacturing petition? I bet 400k+ Foxconn employees would sign a "give us a 10% raise instead" petition.

The next iPhone is currently model 5,1 (iPhone 3G was 1,2, it didn't count as a generation).
If Apple sold an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 6, anyone looking at them would wonder where iPhone 5 was.
No one keeps track of the hardware generations aside from commenters. Marketing will do whatever they want.
The next iPhone could be iPhone X if Apple decides it so.
Don't let it stress you.

I understand the ethical view point of those who want Apple to press Foxconn to do the right thing and treat their workers better, but honestly, we're talking about CHINA here. We're talking about a country who's government is not well known for protecting, nurturing, or encouraging human rights. Does anyone really believe that Apple or any other company has any leverage with which to force any Chinese company to change how they treat their workers. Sure, Apple could take their business elsewhere, but elsewhere would still be in CHINA and what other company treats their workers better there?

Those companies have ALL the leverage here, more than any country could have. They can choose to do business else where, move manufacturing to other countries that don't allow abuse of their workers.

Foxconn has nets setup around the roofs of the building due to employees commiting suicide by jumping off the roof! Have you seen that? Are you serious?
It is irresponsible to say that Apple should in essence ignore the working conditions of the employees of companies hired by Apple; the extreme conditions should not be overlooked. Understandably Apple can not enforce rules for better conditions. But they can take a stance that they will not do business with a company that treats employees a certain way.
Once again Apple can not control the inner-workings of Foxconn. But they are not powerless; the earning potential for anyone working with Apple would pull weight itself. But our continual support of companies like Apple that ship work out to these other countries on such a large scale has been part of the reason for the decline in our economy. Apple of course hires these companies due to the taxes and wages that they would incur within the US. Obviously the labor is dirt cheap and less regulated so less hassle.
When I think about this situation, I liken that to a clothing company that outsources the manufacturing of the clothes. If that clothing company employeed a third party company that worked children for 10 hours a day and cents on the dollar, would we be looking at this the same way? Would we be so quick to brush under the rug as a deniable responsibility? I am not naive to believe that this is not indeed probably going on, or that Apple is the company profiting from "Foxconns" around the globe. But we have a responsibility as consumers (and humans) to at least care.

And before anyone says anything, I am not singling apple out (they are just who the article is referring to). I believe that all these companies have some sort of responsibility. But I am just as guilty of continual support (I do indeed have an Xbox 360 and in the market for a tablet).

The problem isn't the companies, its us. The consumer has to vote with their money at the store.
Educate yourself and make sure that the companies you want to buy stuff from know what you expect. Don't single one out. Go after as many as possible.
Start with industry interest groups. Make sure they know what you expect from member companies. They have a better chance of making a real change than going after one or two companies.
Transparency is the key. Make sure you only do business with companies that will share the info you want and assume the worst in companies who don't share that info.
You're going to find that you'll miss out on most stuff you really want, but you'll have the extra money to spend on the products from companies that are responsive to your requirements.

Agreed. I believe someone posted that earlier. The real problems lies with our monetary support. Apple (and other companies) know while we are willing to pay the asking price and turn a 'blind eye' to how the products are made available, there will always be a profit to them.
I did want to point out in my previous post that I am not w/o blame, I can cast my own stone, lol. We are greedy americans. Gotta have the latest, greatest and best.