Apple hit by boycott call over worker abuses in China

US writers attack conditions at Foxconn plant and call for consumers to act

in New York

The Observer, Saturday 28 January 2012

[Employees work on the Apple assembly line at the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen in southern China. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty]

Employees work on the Apple assembly line at the Foxconn plant

Employees work on the Apple assembly line at the Foxconn plant

Apple, the computer giant whose sleek products have become a mainstay of modern life, is dealing with a public relations disaster and the threat of calls for a boycott of its iPhones and iPads.

The company’s public image took a dive after revelations about working conditions in the factories of some of its network of Chinese suppliers. The allegations, reported at length in the New York Times, build on previous concerns about abuses at firms that Apple uses to make its bestselling computers and phones. Now the dreaded word “boycott” has started to appear in media coverage of its activities.

“Should consumers boycott Apple?” asked a column in the Los Angeles Times as it recounted details of the bad PR fallout.

The influential Daily Beast and Newsweek technology writer Dan Lyons wrote a scathing piece. “It’s barbaric,” he said, before saying to his readership: “Ultimately the blame lies not with Apple and other electronics companies – but with us, the consumers. And ultimately we are the ones who must demand change.”

Forbes magazine columnist Peter Cohan also got in on the act. “If you add up all the workers who have died to build your iPhone or iPad, the number is shockingly high,” he began an article that also toyed with the idea of a boycott in its headline.

The New York Times’s revelations, which centred on the Foxconn plant in southern China that has repeatedly been the subject of accusations of worker mistreatment, have caused a major stir in the US. Although such allegations have been made before in numerous news outlets, and in a controversial one-man show by playwright Mike Daisey, this time they have struck a chord. Continue reading

The Deadly Labor Behind Our Phones, Laptops and Consumer Gadgets

At this Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China, 300,000 workers produce iPads, iPhones and other best-selling consumer items

by Sophia Cheng
Thursday, September 1 2011

The world’s largest electronics manufacturer, Foxconn Technology Group, has a plan for ending the grisly run of worker suicides that have drawn it unwanted attention over the past two years: replace human workers with one million robots. It seems the best way to interrupt rising global outrage over worker abuse in iPhone factories is to just get rid of the workers.

With a labor force of 1.2 million people, Foxconn is China’s largest private employer and biggest exporter. It manufactures familiar products for the U.S. market. Through contracts with Apple, Motorola, Nokia, Hewlett Packard, Dell and Sony, it makes the computers, phones, laptops and printers that we use every day—including the iPhones and iPads that many people will use to read this very article. Continue reading

Labor Group Protests “Death Pad” at Apple Store in San Francisco

A protester outside San Francisco's flagship Apple Store. ©SF World Journal

June 22nd, 2010

Nicole Martinelli

Outraged over Foxconn suicides and poor working conditions, members of the Chinese Progressive Association protested what they called the “Death Pad” outside the San Francisco Apple store.

About 20 protesters from the labor group carried signs with the names of the suicides and handed out leaflets to busy shoppers on Saturday afternoon in front of Apple’s flagship Powell Street store. Their goal: get US consumers to think about where their favorite high-tech gadgets come from and how they are made.

“Although the tragedies happened in China,” CPA organizer Shaw San Li told the San Francisco World Journal, “we know exploitation of blue-collar workers happens every day in America too. Big corporations like Apple are taking advantage of workers.”

Via SF Bay Citizen

Foxconn protest disrupts Computex Taipei opening

A woman demonstrator unfurls a protest sign reading 'Put an end to blood and sweat factories, return to a happy society' while a portrait of Terry Gou, chief of Foxconn, is displayed during a rally outside an exhibition hall in Taipei on June 1, 2010

Wed, Jun 02, 2010
The China Post/Asia News Network

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Scuffles erupted in Taiwan yesterday as activists alleging labor abuses by IT giant Foxconn tried to enter an exhibition centre where President Ma Ying-jeou was opening Asia’s biggest technology fair.

The protesters, who were shouting “Capitalists kill people” and holding placards and pictures of Foxconn chief Terry Gou, fought with uniformed police as they tried to deliver a letter to Ma while he launched Computex Taipei.

Five other IT tycoons, including Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and Cher Wang, chairwoman of Taiwan’s leading smartphone maker HTC Corp, were also targeted.

Foxconn, a unit of the Hon Hai group, makes a range of popular products including Apple iPhones, Dell computers and Nokia mobile phones.

“All the products on display at the exhibition inside are made with workers’ sweat and blood,” demonstration leader Liu Nien-yun told reporters. “That’s why we’re here.”

They were campaigning as 10 workers at a Foxconn plant in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have fallen to their deaths in apparent suicides this year. An 11th worker died at a factory run by the firm in northern China. Continue reading

Protest at Chinese iPad maker Foxconn after 11th suicide attempt this year

Protestors made traditional Chinese funeral offerings to the dead at the headquarters of Foxconn, the manufacturer of Apple’s iPad, after the 11th suicide attempt at the company’s factories so far this year

Protestors from SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour) burn effigies of Apple products during a demonstration near the offices of Foxconn in Hong Kong over the deaths of 11 workers. Photo: Getty

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Published: 3:53PM BST 25 May 2010

A recruiter from Foxconn, where 11 Chinese workers have died in the past year, talks to job applicants outside the factory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province. Foxconn Photo: AP

Li Hai, a 19-year-old man from the central province of Hunan, fell to his death from the roof of a dormitory building at Foxconn‘s Longhua factory on Tuesday morning, leaving the world’s largest electronics manufacturer in crisis.

A spate of recent suicides at Foxconn has highlighted the concerns over working conditions inside the giant Longhua factory, where 300,000 workers assemble goods for clients including Apple, Sony, Nintendo, Dell and Nokia. The deaths comes as Apple prepares to launch the iPad in the UK at the end of this week. Yesterday, Apple declined to comment on the situation.

The Longhua factory is the biggest in the world and is responsible for over 20pc of the annual exports emerging from Shenzhen, the one-time fishing village that has become one of the capitals of the world’s manufacturing industry.

In the lobby of Foxconn’s headquarters in Hong Kong, a group of around two dozen protestors laid mannequins to rest and conducted funeral rites. “We are staging the protest because of the high death rate [at Foxconn], with an abnormal number of workers committing suicide in the past five months,” said Debby Chan, a spokesman for the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour group. Continue reading