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May 28, 2010
As consumers rush to get their hands on an iPad, Apple Inc.'s latest gadget, which officially hit Canadian stores today, Asian civil society organizations are protesting Foxconn, the world's leading electronics manufacturer and one of Apple's major suppliers, for its deplorable labour practices which have been linked to 12 worker suicides at one of its Chinese plants this year alone.
The workers have complained of extremely low wages, excessive overtime, extreme productivity targets and a particularly harsh and isolating management system.
Foxconn blames the workers
Foxconn has responded by setting up nets around the factories dormitories and buildings, bringing in mental health experts, and asking workers to contractually agree not to commit suicide and to report colleagues who appear to be undergoing distress. Unfortunately, this ‘blame the victim' approach treats the suicides as an individualized problem of the workers themselves and de-emphasizes the role that workplace practices played in the deaths.
International brands need to take responsibility
As Apple launches its 4th generation iPhone on June 8, Asian labour rights groups are calling for this date to become a Global Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Foxconn. They are demanding that Foxconn shut down production for a month (with full pay) in order to thoroughly investigate the underlying systemic workplace issues and management systems linked to the suicides. They are also asking Foxconn to facilitate the establishment of democratic worker organizations in the factory, so that workers can overcome their isolation and bring problems to management's attention in a collective manner.
In order to pressure the company, Asian civil society groups are calling on consumers to boycott the products made by Foxconn, including iPhones, and iPads, throughout the month of June.
International electronics brands that source from Foxconn, including Apple Inc, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, and Motorola, must also be pressured to take responsibility for investigating any labour abuses occurring in their supply chains.
Take action now
Take action by signing a petition initiated by Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a leading Asian labour rights organization, in support of Foxconn workers and to demand that the causes of these tragic deaths are investigated and addressed.