There’s a petition floating around in cyberspace urging Apple to produce an iPhone 5 that has been manufactured “ethically.”
By ethically, the watchdog group SumOfUs means an iPhone that is put together by suppliers that don’t have employees working under deplorable conditions, according to a CNET report on the petition drive.
The petition obtained more than 35,000 signatures in its first 24 hours, SumOfUs said, and it hopes to apply pressure before the release of the next iPhone.
Apple, which reported a $13 billion quarterly profit last week, has adopted a code of conduct for its suppliers, but as The New York Times reported recently on conditions in China, alleged abuses abound at manufacturers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices:
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors. More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health.
While Apple is saying little publicly about the allegations, former executives say there is tension within the company over addressing the issue head-on and the reality of the supplier relationships needed to deliver products on time, according to the Times.
Advocacy groups also have complained about conditions at suppliers for Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.