Change.org is asking consumers to show up at Apple stores in Washington, DC, New York City, and San Francisco to demand that Apple produces a “new product release plan that stops worker abuse”, according to Change.org’s press release. ” Demonstrators will demand Apple create a worker protection strategy to prevent workplace abuse, injury, and death, including how to keep workers safe during labor-intensive releases of new products like the iPad 3″, the release adds. Note that iPad 3 refers to the “new iPad”.
The protests are scheduled to start at 8am in the different cities, so if you plan on queuing to get an iPad (fortunately, the queues were not that long in countries like Australia), you may want to take this into consideration. Hopefully, things will remain orderly.
If you haven’t followed the story, Change.org and many consumers have demanded that Apple finds a plan so that factory workers based in China can get better working conditions. Apple has then announced some changes, and raised the pay for those workers (they did so many times in the past couple of years).
As one of the most prominent brands in consumer-electronics, Apple is an obvious target for those demands, but it is fair to say that most electronics brands do use China-based manufacturing contractors, and that conditions for workers building non-Apple products would probably need to be looked at as well. That said, because Apple has the highest margins in the industry, it should not get hit financially by those changes as labor represents a small fraction of the overall cost of Apple’s devices. Many observers said that this was Apple’s “Nike moment” in reference to a similar situation that hit Nike years ago.
In the end, this shows how powerful consumers can be when they demand products that are manufactured in a more “ethical way”. Also, things should be placed into context: for those workers, building such products is also a “good job” by local standards, even if working conditions may be seen as “harsh”, if not cruel, by western standards.