Communications consultant Mark Shields is an Apple products fan who has decided to do something about the abuse claims at Apple supplier Foxconn’s manufacturing facilities in China. He has drafted a petition asking Apple to release a worker protection strategy for all new product releases.
Shields is asking Apple to continue their motto of “thinking differently” and transfer that mentality over to protecting the laborers who build their products. In the petition he urges Apple to hear his point of view:
“….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.”
Tim Cook, CEO at Apple claims that apple has made great strides in the fight against work place abuse in China, more than anyone else in the industry. He’s outraged about the claims and denies the incidents are the result of any policies at Apple.
As perceptions of Apple begin to change in the eyes of consumers, Shields reports that his petition has gathered over 162,000 signatures. Perhaps this petition will be a catalyst for change over in Asia but I have my doubts about whether this is anything more than just a fleeting interest for the American public. The recent abuses at Foxconn are just part of a long heritage of exploits by American companies in foreign lands.
I believe, and so do those who have signed this petition, that every human being is entitled to safe working conditions at the very least. The down side is, I don’t believe the American consumer is willing to sacrifice low costs for improved worker safety. Don’t be fooled, that’s what it will take to make change in this area. Safety costs time and resources; signing pieces of paper will not get the job done. If Tim Cook was being honest, he would admit that improved safety translates to higher costs and that’s something shareholders will not like.