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Thursday
Feb092012

An Ethical iPhone: Protesters Rally at Apple Stores

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Protesters rallied at the Apple store in Washington, D.C., Thursday to deliver roughly 250,000 signatures in a demonstration calling for an end to unethical manufacturing practices at the tech giant’s factories in China.

The protest was one of six being held in cities around the world inspired by Mark Shields -- a consultant from Washington, D.C. -- who launched a petition on change.org in January. Shields is a self-described Apple user who became mobilized after hearing reports of poor working conditions at factories run by Foxconn, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers.  

According to a New York Times investigation, Foxconn’s Chinese workers are subjected to poor conditions at the company’s factories. Reports claim that there have been multiple attempted suicides at its plants, including recently when 150 workers threatened to jump from a roof following a dispute about pay. Other charges against Foxconn include unfair wages and hazardous working conditions.

Shields’ demonstration included a small group of signatories and representatives from sumofus.org, another organization which has been collecting signatures to encourage Apple to make the iPhone5 the first ethically manufactured Apple product. Change.org’s petition demands that Apple announces “a worker protection strategy for new product releases, which are the instances when injuries and suicides typically spike because of the incredible pressure to meet quotas timed to releases.”

“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,” Apple said in a statement to ABC News. “We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.

“Every year Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers. In 2011 we conducted 229 audits at supplier facilities around the world and reported their progress on apple.com. Last month, Apple became the first technology company admitted to the Fair Labor Association, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving conditions for workers around the world. The FLA's auditing team will have direct access to our supply chain and they will report their findings independently on their website,” the statement from Apple said.

Protests were also held at Apple stores in New York, San Francisco, London, Sydney and Bangalore, India on Thursday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio