Major media outlets from around the world have reported on the terrible quality of life for the workers in these factories. Apple has clearly taken the reports seriously - because they're taking action on them. So, while This American Life may be retracting 'Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,' it seems like the issues and facts at the core of this story are still the same. As an Apple customer, I'm glad to have had my eyes opened to these issues, and to have had a chance to do something about them. My sincere hope is that everyone stays focused on what's important here - which is protecting the well-being of these factory workers.
You know what’s awesome? Listening to NPR podcasts through an Apple Airport, playing through a Mac laptop, while puttering about the kitchen. Do you know the fastest way to replace awesome with a terrible knot in your stomach? Learning that your beloved Apple products are made in factories where conditions are so bad, it’s not uncommon for workers to permanently lose the use of their hands.
Last week’s This American Life shined a spotlight on the working conditions in the Chinese factories where iPhones are made. Just one example of the hardships there: the men and women in these factories work very long days spent repeating the same motions over and over, which creates amped-up carpal tunnel syndrome in their wrists and hands. This often results in them losing the use of their hands for the rest of their lives. This condition could be easily prevented if the workers were rotated through different positions in the factory, but they are not. Why? Because there are no labor laws in China to protect these people.
Here’s the thing: you’re Apple. You’re supposed to think different. I want to continue to use and love the products you make, because they’re changing the world, and have already changed my life. But I also want to know that when I buy products from you, it’s not at the cost of horrible human suffering.
Here are two simple asks (basically taken from the end of the TAL report) that could make a profound difference in the lives of the men and women in your factories and others like them:
First, in regards to the worker traumas described in the story, ranging from suicide attempts to the people losing the use of their hands from repetitive motion injuries, we ask that Apple release 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.
Second, since the TAL story aired, Apple has announced that the Fair Labor Association will be monitoring its suppliers. Awesome step. Please publish the results of FLA's monitoring, including the NAMES of the suppliers found to have violations and WHAT those violations are, so that there is transparency around the monitoring effort.
Please make these changes immediately, so that each of us can once again hold our heads high and say, “I’m a Mac person.”
Your own ads say that “the people who think they are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Please get to it.