Apple Hit With 250,000 Signatures Protesting Labor Conditions in China

Fair-labor organizers delivered 250,000 signatures to Apple stores in six cities around the world on Thursday in protest of the company’s working conditions in China.

Apple’s main factory, Foxconn, has faced numerous accusations of providing an inhumane work environment to Chinese workers.

“It’s hard to hear tales of people jumping off buildings and using their hands until they can’t anymore,” said senior organizer of William Winters, who delivered a stack of petitions to the San Francisco Apple store on Stockton Street. The rest of the 250,000 signatures were being delivered to Apple stores in five other cities in the U.S., the UK, Australia and India.

Foxconn has been accused of making laborers work long hours without breaks, use dangerous chemicals that have caused severe health problems and exposing workers to dangerous conditions. The repetitive work and spartan living conditions have also been to blame for suicides at the factory.

Charlotte Hill, communications manager at, pleaded with Apple to use its creativity to “think ethically” and create an iPhone without using factories that have harsh working conditions.

“No iPhone is worth that cost,” she said.

A group of protestors and an even larger group of media gathered outside the San Francisco Apple store in mid-morning as employees watched from inside the store. An Apple employee who wouldn’t give his name said the employees had no idea the demonstration was going to happen. It was a peaceful event — Winters and a group of other protestors brought the petitions inside the store and soon exited.

The electronic signatures were gathered through and Apple fan Mark Shields started the campaign after he listened to an episode of the This American Life podcast and was sickened to learn about the working conditions for employees at Foxconn.

Winters said they hope that by delivering their message to Apple and Tim Cook, it will shine a spotlight on “workers in China at the Foxconn factory who work in inhumane conditions.”

“I’m fairly confident that Apple’s going to get the message loud and clear,” he added.

Apple released its list of suppliers last month in an effort to be more transparent. Apple also agreed to a labor audit by the Fair Labor Association. It’s the first tech company to do so.

“We hope this sparks a revolution of sorts with consumers who now realize that they can go to and start a petition for social change and actually create a change they want to see in the world,” Winters said.

What do you think about Apple’s labor practices in China? Have you or will you get involved in any Apple protests or sign a petition? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Camrocker

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