A new website, called SumOfUs.org, is calling for Apple to create a more ethical iPhone and a safer environment for workers in China -- and after one day the online petition has garnered 50,000 signatures.
On the other side of the world, a young girl is also swiping those screens. In fact, every day, during her 12+ hour shifts, six days a week, she repetitively swipes tens of thousands of them. She spends those hours inhaling n-hexane, a potent neurotoxin used to clean iPhone glass, because it dries a few seconds faster than a safe alternative. After just a few years on the line, she will be fired because the neurological damage from the n-hexane and the repetitive stress injuries to her wrists and hands make her unable to continue performing up to standard.
The site, described as "a movement of consumers, workers and shareholders" counteracting the power of large corporations, says it also seeks to "make the world a better place." The campaign no doubt was launched after a New York Times article pointed out abuses in Apple's Chinese supply chain last week.
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Apple chief Tim Cook denied that Apple doesn't care about employees in its supply chain, but his solution to have workers stand up to their company overlords was naive at best. In a place without benefits,little government oversight or protection, workers have no voice unless they want to be immediately fired.
The website continues to outline some of the conditions of workers, including suicide nets installed at Foxconn. "Apple is the richest company in the world, posting a profit margin for the last quarter of 42.4% yesterday," the site said. "They’re sitting on $100 billion in the bank. According to an anonymous Apple executive quoted in the New York Times, all Apple has to do is demand it, and it’ll happen – 'Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.'"
The website does have it right. If Apple wanted to stop all of the serious abuses and nightmarish conditions at Chinese factories, it could have them stopped within 24 hours. Perhaps more concern from its customers could spur on change.