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Old 02-14-2012, 02:15 PM   #16
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I am sure it must just be Apple. All the other cheap as hell stuff is made by happy little Asians all terribly happy and ever so grateful for the work opportunity.
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Old 02-14-2012, 02:22 PM   #17
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How? I have had experience in having things manufactured by another company(s0 and I was never granted any rights as to working conditions or anything else other than my product and the price I was paying.
And clearly the situation with Apple and Foxconn is different. Apple has had some problems with their intellectual property (the prototypes that went missing) and might have negotiated more control over factory that makes their devices. This would explain why their permission was required for inspection. They are not just buyers of a product.
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Old 02-14-2012, 02:22 PM   #18
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I am sure it must just be Apple. All the other cheap as hell stuff is made by happy little Asians all terribly happy and ever so grateful for the work opportunity.
Are you implying that Apple products are cheap as hell?
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Old 02-14-2012, 02:27 PM   #19
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These accusations are not new and have been going on for some time. Apple has been denying them for some time as well. What has happened recently is that iPhone users have been petitioning for an ethical creation of the iPhone 5 that and many folks have been picketing apple here in the states and in China which as raised visibility.

But as others have mentioned here and on other blogs, this is not just Apple's responsibility it is also other manufactures that use Foxconn and such services responsibility to create products in an ethical manner.


PR, or deep concern for workers rights and working conditions - which have only just been communicated to Apple ?


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Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post

Don't blame Apple and Amazon, blame the consumer (ie me) who wants the cheaper product and overlooks the blatantly awful labor practices that get me that cheaper price.

You probably need to blame yourself too.
You are aware that you are talking about one of the richest companies that typically sells their product substantially above cost to manufacture and still has trouble maintaining stock.

If my previous paragraph is not obvious enough that I disagree with you. Let me be more blunt I disagree 100% with your statement. The consumer should have every right to demand lower prices and expect business to comply. There are many ways to reduce cost*, what is not acceptable is that business cut cost by making human conditions insufferable.

Henry Ford's autobiography holds many examples in which he strives to reduce cost and offload them to the consumer.

Apple can most certainly improve the working conditions at Foxconn, keep the price of their iProducts the same and still be one of the most profitable companies around.


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Old 02-14-2012, 03:32 PM   #20
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Apple can try its hardest to influence Foxconn and will probably fail miserably. Chinese law does not provide the same protection or enforcement of existing laws as companies in the US and Europe. It is cheaper to hire individuals, run factories, and easier to fire or remove employees in China then it is in the US and Europe. Due to the size of the population and the push to move from rural China to urban China in order to make more money and improve their quality of life, get the child a better education, and increase oppertunities there are millions of people willing to work for crap wages, work insane hours, all in deplorable conditions.

This is no different then what we saw in the West during the 1800's and early 1900's as people began leaving the farm and moving to the cities. Not to mention the waves of immigrants willing to work in factories that were abusive in the US and in Europe.

Companies are driven to make as much profit as they can. They give lip service to caring about human rights and protecting workers and labor laws because it is good PR. The reality is that they want to make a product at the least cost to them so they can increase their profit. Apple is no different the Amazon or Microsoft or any other large electronics corporation. As I understand it, Foxconn produces parts that are part of the Kindle and the Nook as well as the IPad and IPhone. Why are we targeting Apple when there is a nice long list of companies that are allowing the same thing to happen?

This is no different then what we see in the garmat industry. Changes only came when some consumers began buying USA and European made garmets because of the awful labor practices in Africa, South America, and Asia. I would bet that you would find that the labor practices are still pretty horrific and would in no way be condoned in the US.

And yet Nike and Under Armour and the like do really well in the US even knowing that crap labor laws. You can buy New Balance shoes that are made in the US (for the most part) for less then Nikes but people buy Nikes. They like the status that comes with the brand, the design, and the shoe so they will pay more for the Nike then the more humanly made New Balance.

You can buy foods that are Fair Trade or Organic that do not use slave labor, or are less likely to use slave labor, yet most of us buy non-Fair Trade and Non-Organic because it is cheaper.

To hold Apple to a higher standard then others in the electronics industry is silly. To hold Apple to a higher standard when there are less expensive items that we could all be buying that do not employ slave labor and that we ignore is silly.

If we want Apple to care, or Amazon or Samsung or electronics company X, we have to make them care. That means not buying those products and making Apple, and all the other companies feel the pain. Until consumers are willing to change their buying patterns, Corporations are going to continue to give the PR acceptable "That is bad" response to awful labor practices while merrily going about their business and making as much money as they can.

It took years of boycotting Nestle because of their immoral formula practice in Africa before Nestle changed its position. Nestle was giving away enough formula for free to mothers so that their breast milk dried up and then charged an insane amount of money, for the local economy, for the formula all over the African continent. There were large cases of malnutrition and some starvation of babies because of this practice. I know that we had no Nestle products in my house until I was a teenager because my Mom participated in the boycott.

If you want Apple to really change their practices then convince people to loudly boycott Apple because of labor practices in places like China. Convince the consumer that they should be willing to pay more for an IPad made in humane conditions in the US or Europe and make Apple aware that this is the case. Be prepared to be Apple free for a long time.

And then check in with Nike and see how well all that outcry and pressure worked. Let me know that you are surprised that not much has changed in those factories even though people are less up in arms about the labor practices in those factories.

It is basic economics. Supply and demand. Apple, Nike, Nestle don't care about morals and ethics. They care about profit. Hurt their profit and things might change. Until then, it is all smoke and mirrors and nothing will change.
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Old 02-14-2012, 04:13 PM   #21
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Apple can most certainly improve the working conditions at Foxconn, keep the price of their iProducts the same and still be one of the most profitable companies around.
So why are they not doing this if it is so obvious? I am sure they would be happy to pay you to point them in the right direction if it is obvious and they are too inept to see it themselves.

I am pretty sure there are people who care in most of the big companies. The question is can they do anything about it without getting fired even at the highest levels. Would you or I take that risk? Would those who are interested in buying their products pay more for products produced with reasonable working conditions and wages?

Based on a recent poll in this forum it seems not.
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Old 02-14-2012, 05:56 PM   #22
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And don't forget that all these ethical and righteous boycotters must also send enough food for the ex-employees of the factories and finance to help house them and school the freed kids... not going to happen real soon... unfortunately...
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Old 02-14-2012, 06:34 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post
Apple can try its hardest to influence Foxconn and will
probably fail miserably.
I think you fail to realize just how powerful cooperate companies are.

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Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post
As I understand it, Foxconn produces parts that are part of the Kindle and the Nook as well as the IPad and IPhone. Why are we targeting Apple when there is a nice long list of companies that are allowing the same thing to happen?
Yes I agree 100%. Apple is being singled out unfairly there is a long list of manufactures who use Foxconn who should be under the same microscope. There is a good article in Phandroid that talks lists of companies that use Foxconn.
(article ... ).

My guess is Apple is the highest profile customer and also Foxconn's largest customer. So putting pressure for Apple to impose better work conditions on Foxconn will trickle over to the rest.


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Companies are driven to make as much profit as they can. They give lip service to caring about human rights and protecting workers and labor laws because it is good PR. The reality is that they want to make a product at the least cost to them so they can increase their profit. Apple is no different the Amazon or Microsoft or any other large electronics corporation.
I agree with this paragraph here, which is also why I disagreed with your previous point about the consumer being at fault. Even if consumer goods where doubled in price the working conditions would remain the same. It's only until companies are exposed and laws are put into place will their be better working and environmental conditions.

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Old 02-14-2012, 06:38 PM   #24
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it'll be fun to bump these threads in five years -- gold, apple, etc.
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Old 02-14-2012, 06:42 PM   #25
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The Consumer is at fault because we buy the products. We know what is going on at these factories and we buy the products.

Your Galaxy and Nook, my Kindles, other folks Sony's and I Products. We know why manufacturing jobs left the US, labor was too expensive and well regulated. We know why they are being made in China and other places. We are willing to look the other way or discuss the problem while allowing it to continue for our convenience.

If consumers speak with their dollars then corporations have an incentive to apply pressure to change the labor practices overseas. Until then asking a corporation to do what is moral and ethical works in Star Trek and other utopian societies but not the real world.

There has been little real change in agriculture or the garment industry even with all the PR nightmares. Why would you expect change in the electronics industry?
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Old 02-14-2012, 07:16 PM   #26
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Why are we targeting Apple when there is a nice long list of companies that are allowing the same thing to happen?
Do the other companies on the long list do this kind of things:
Quote:
Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.
[...]
More than half of the suppliers audited by Apple have violated at least one aspect of the code of conduct every year since 2007, according to Apple's reports, and in some instances have violated the law.
[...]
''We've known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they're still going on,'' said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. ''Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn't have another choice.''

''If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?'' the executive asked.
[...]
Banners on the walls warned the 120,000 employees: ''Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow.'' Apple's supplier code of conduct dictates that, except in unusual circumstances, employees are not supposed to work more than 60 hours a week. But at Foxconn, some worked more, according to interviews, workers' pay stubs and surveys by outside groups. Mr. Lai was soon spending 12 hours a day, six days a week inside the factory, according to his paychecks. Employees who arrived late were sometimes required to write confession letters and copy quotations. There were ''continuous shifts,'' when workers were told to work two stretches in a row, according to interviews.
You might wonder how long the problems have been around:
Quote:
In 2005, some of Apple's top executives gathered inside their Cupertino, Calif., headquarters for a special meeting. Other companies had created codes of conduct to police their suppliers. It was time, Apple decided, to follow suit. The code Apple published that year demands ''that working conditions in Apple's supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.''
[...]
Those audits have found consistent violations of Apple's code of conduct, according to summaries published by the company. In 2007, for instance, Apple conducted over three dozen audits, two-thirds of which indicated that employees regularly worked more than 60 hours a week. In addition, there were six ''core violations,'' the most serious kind, including hiring 15-year-olds as well as falsifying records.

Over the next three years, Apple conducted 312 audits, and every year, about half or more showed evidence of large numbers of employees laboring more than six days a week as well as working extended overtime. Some workers received less than minimum wage or had pay withheld as punishment. Apple found 70 core violations over that period, including cases of involuntary labor, under-age workers, record falsifications, improper disposal of hazardous waste and over a hundred workers injured by toxic chemical exposures.

Last year, the company conducted 229 audits. There were slight improvements in some categories and the detected rate of core violations declined. However, within 93 facilities, at least half of workers exceeded the 60-hours-a-week work limit. At a similar number, employees worked more than six days a week. There were incidents of discrimination, improper safety precautions, failure to pay required overtime rates and other violations. That year, four employees were killed and 77 injured in workplace explosions.

''If you see the same pattern of problems, year after year, that means the company's ignoring the issue rather than solving it,'' said one former Apple executive with firsthand knowledge of the supplier responsibility group. ''Noncompliance is tolerated, as long as the suppliers promise to try harder next time. If we meant business, core violations would disappear.''

Apple says that when an audit reveals a violation, the company requires suppliers to address the problem within 90 days and make changes to prevent a recurrence. ''If a supplier is unwilling to change, we terminate our relationship,'' the company says on its Web site.

The seriousness of that threat, however, is unclear. Apple has found violations in hundreds of audits, but fewer than 15 suppliers have been terminated for transgressions since 2007, according to former Apple executives.

''Once the deal is set and Foxconn becomes an authorized Apple supplier, Apple will no longer give any attention to worker conditions or anything that is irrelevant to its products,'' said Mr. Li, the former Foxconn manager. Mr. Li spent seven years with Foxconn in Shenzhen and Chengdu and was forced out in April after he objected to a relocation to Chengdu, he said. Foxconn disputed his comments, and said ''both Foxconn and Apple take the welfare of our employees very seriously.''
The reason why the attention is on Apple:
Quote:
''We've spent years telling Apple there are serious problems and recommending changes,'' said a consultant at BSR -- also known as Business for Social Responsibility -- which has been twice retained by Apple to provide advice on labor issues. ''They don't want to pre-empt problems, they just want to avoid embarrassments.''

'We Could Have Saved Lives'
[...]
The next year, a Foxconn employee fell or jumped from an apartment building after losing an iPhone prototype. Over the next two years, at least 18 other Foxconn workers attempted suicide or fell from buildings in manners that suggested suicide attempts. In 2010, two years after the pilot program fell apart and after multiple suicide attempts, Foxconn created a dedicated mental health hotline and began offering free psychological counseling.

''We could have saved lives, and we asked Apple to pressure Foxconn, but they wouldn't do it,'' said the BSR consultant, who asked not to be identified because of confidentiality agreements. ''Companies like H.P. and Intel and Nike push their suppliers. But Apple wants to keep an arm's length, and Foxconn is their most important manufacturer, so they refuse to push.''
[...]
''You can set all the rules you want, but they're meaningless if you don't give suppliers enough profit to treat workers well,'' said one former Apple executive with firsthand knowledge of the supplier responsibility group. ''If you squeeze margins, you're forcing them to cut safety.''
[...]
Many major technology companies have worked with factories where conditions are troubling. However, independent monitors and suppliers say some act differently. Executives at multiple suppliers, in interviews, said that Hewlett-Packard and others allowed them slightly more profits and other allowances if they were used to improve worker conditions.
Apple has enough hold on the suppliers to stop inspections:
Quote:
The company's supplier list does not disclose where factories are, and many are hard to find. And independent monitoring organizations say when they have tried to inspect Apple's suppliers, they have been barred from entry -- on Apple's orders, they have been told.
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Old 02-14-2012, 08:47 PM   #27
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Do the other companies on the long list do this kind of things:
Yes. Absolutely. The last threatened suicides at Foxconn had to do with the Xbox.

The reason the attention is on Apple is because they are the biggest company and will get the most readers; most of the evidence suggests that it is better to work on Foxconn's Apple production line than it is to work at other Chinese factories. Which is not to say that it's like working in the west at all.

If you investigate this issue *at all* - and reading one NY Times article doesn't count - you will find out that - again, for China - Apple is one of the more progressive companies.

The fact that the NY Times didn't investigate Foxconn's Nook or Fire production line does not mean that they are not as bad or worse than Apple.

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Old 02-14-2012, 10:26 PM   #28
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I don't know if Apple is one of the more progressive companies in China but I would put solid money betting that what Apple is doing, other companies are doing.

Just like it wasn't just Nike that had their shoes made in awful factories or Nestle using slave labor for chocolate. Or one particular textile factory in the 1800 using small children due to the size of their hands.

Abuse of factory workers is an age old problem (feudalism wasn't pleasant for the vast majority of the population and was essentially an agriculture factory) and one that is not going to go away until consumers change their behavior.

The companies Amazon, Sony, Apple, Dell all want to make as much profit as possible. They will cut corners, pay crap wages, ask workers to work long hours with no over time, and then claim that they are shocked, shocked I tell you, that the workers are treated so poorly and they will work on changing that right away.

Yeah right. It is all a giant PR stunt. Little changes. And when it does change, the companies move their factories else where. Remember the textiles first left the US for Mexico. Mexico finally started to crack down on labor practices and those factories left for other South American countries and then eventually Asia. It is cheaper to do business in countries that do not protect the wages and rights of the worker.

I am as guilty of buying this stuff as anyone. I am typing on a keyboard attached to a computer made in China. My e-reader was made in China. My sneakers were made in the US and I try and buy organic chocolate but that is about all I can say I actively contribute.

Is it right? Hell no. Do I think things should change? Hell yes. Do I think Apple or any other mega corporation is going to do anything about it because it is the right thing to do? Hell no.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:33 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post
I don't know if Apple is one of the more progressive companies in China but I would put solid money betting that what Apple is doing, other companies are doing.

Just like it wasn't just Nike that had their shoes made in awful factories or Nestle using slave labor for chocolate. Or one particular textile factory in the 1800 using small children due to the size of their hands.

Abuse of factory workers is an age old problem (feudalism wasn't pleasant for the vast majority of the population and was essentially an agriculture factory) and one that is not going to go away until consumers change their behavior.

The companies Amazon, Sony, Apple, Dell all want to make as much profit as possible. They will cut corners, pay crap wages, ask workers to work long hours with no over time, and then claim that they are shocked, shocked I tell you, that the workers are treated so poorly and they will work on changing that right away.

Yeah right. It is all a giant PR stunt. Little changes. And when it does change, the companies move their factories else where. Remember the textiles first left the US for Mexico. Mexico finally started to crack down on labor practices and those factories left for other South American countries and then eventually Asia. It is cheaper to do business in countries that do not protect the wages and rights of the worker.

I am as guilty of buying this stuff as anyone. I am typing on a keyboard attached to a computer made in China. My e-reader was made in China. My sneakers were made in the US and I try and buy organic chocolate but that is about all I can say I actively contribute.

Is it right? Hell no. Do I think things should change? Hell yes. Do I think Apple or any other mega corporation is going to do anything about it because it is the right thing to do? Hell no.
Nothing changes? Sorry, but this is abject nonsense. Foreign invested factories in China are way ahead of the curve in treating their workers. 5 days per week, 40 hours. No underage workers. Wages and safety standards far beyond Chinese minimums. Safe and clean working conditions.

Nike has fined and cutoff a number of suppliers because they didn't meet Nike's standards (which are very high). You obviously have never been to China in your life, while I have been to over 1000 factories over 25 years. Everything has changed, and for the benefit of the workers.

Just stop and think for a moment. Where do you think people's living standards in China and other Asian countries would be today, if not for those investments.

Some journalists want to attract attention and write some crude, sensationalist exaggerations. That is the real story.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:14 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by HansTWN View Post
...............................Some journalists want to attract attention and write some crude, sensationalist exaggerations. That is the real story.
Absolute nonsense - the real story is, surprisingly enough, the story - reported by a truly independent newspaper in a factual manner about a matter of public interest.

This investigation is not the result of nasty journalists ganging up on a decent employer, and Apple itself has acknowledged this by going into this process - note: they are not saying it's lies dreamed up by the gutter press, or even the un-crude, un-sensationalist press.
And they should know, shouldn't they ?
They do work there.....

And the investigators involved have a proven track record, having been responsible for improving the conditions of those working in the textile industry - not some "lefty, do-good" bunch of idiots with no experience of what is required, and what is just.

And no, of course Apple aren't the only guilty parties - but they are one of them, as the company itself admits, and any correcting of the situation has to start somewhere, so a big-name player, with admitted problems, is obviously a good place to start.

And no, the textile industry, or indeed any industry with a profit motive, isn't completely perfect - but a lot of that is down to companies upping sticks and moving somewhere else, after any corrective measures are introduced, so they can continue "not to be aware of" the reasons it is again conveniently cheaper to carry on business
Unlike the last place they were in, where perhaps "...........crude and sensationalist journalists..........." had the temerity to expose the situation.

And the "anti-suicide nets" approach is an interesting take on solving what seems to be a problem that perhaps might be worth looking into, by any company - let alone one of the biggest companies in the world ?
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