Apple faces more criticism over working conditions

Apple is facing calls for a boycott over worker conditions, with a series of US newspapers covering the issue at length, and forcing the company to defend its tactics.

Apple faces more criticism over working conditions

Although evidence of any actual boycott remains thin, a growing number of influential titles is calling for a change to business practices at Apple.

“Should consumers boycott Apple?” pondered the Los Angeles Times, while the New York Times ran articles about the dangerous conditions inside Apple-manufacturing plants

The New York Times detailed a series of accidents and claimed that Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions before explosions killed four people and injured 77 last year.

“If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible,” Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, told the paper. “But what’s morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that.”

If Apple was warned, and didn’t act, that’s reprehensible

The iPhone and iPad manufacturer has suffered ongoing criticism over the conditions of factory workers at suppliers in China and other countries, although the company is by no means alone in using the likes of Foxconn to manufacture its goods as cheaply as possible.

Apple response

In response to the latest round of criticism, Apple reportedly sent a memo to workers defending its record, reassuring staff members that suppliers’ were monitored to ensure conditions were acceptable.

“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,” CEO Tim Cook said in an email to staff members first seen by 9to5Mac.

“Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us.”

Cook claimed the company was leading the industry by adopting policies that opened its supply chain up to inspection by the fair Fair Labor Association.

Of course, Apple isn’t alone in seeking cheap labour in Asia, with a host of other tech manufacturers is working with the same factories, but Apple has come in for more acute criticism than most, particularly at a time when its major problem appears to be what to do with a $100 billion cash surplus.

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