Apple Inc. (AAPL), maker of the iPad and iPhone, will face protesters tomorrow who want the company to change its manufacturing practices to address criticism of worker conditions at manufacturing partners operating in China.
Customers plan to present a petition signed by more than 250,000 people asking the company to develop a worker-protection strategy that prevents abuse at Chinese factories where its gadgets are made, according to a statement from Change.org, a website that helped facilitate the petition.
The petitioners want Cupertino, California-based Apple to vow to make an “ethical” iPhone 5 at facilities with better working conditions than those at Taipei-based Foxconn Technology Group, Apple’s biggest supplier. The New York Times documented poor conditions at factories run by Apple partners, including excessive overtime, deaths from suicide and factory explosions, and overcrowded dormitories.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has defended the company’s labor practices. In an e-mail to employees last month, he said the company is “attacking problems” with conditions at factories that make its products and is committed to educating workers about their rights.
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain,”Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, said in a telephone interview. “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.”
Partners must “live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple,” Dowling added.
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