SumOfUs launches Apple, Foxconn watchdog site
(CBS News) The activist group SumOfUs.org is taking Apple to task with a new website that is meant to act as a watchdog over the iPad and iPhone maker. The hope is that Apple's next smartphone will be what the organization refers to as the first "ethical iPhone"
Described as highly-stylized and designed to look like and work seamlessly with Apple products, EthicaliPhone.org counts the days since Apple promised to make improvement to Foxconn factories.
Some of the conditions SumOfUs would like to see addressed include: paying workers a living wage, ending illegal overtime and eliminating hazardous working conditions.
Apple and its main supplier Foxconn came under fire following a series of reports of poor working conditions.
Although other companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard manufacture electronics at Foxconn factories, Apple has been pressured to take the lead in pushing for change.
"Every company has a responsibility, but Apple has the highest profit margin and the most clout with suppliers," Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director and founder of SumOfUs told CBS News.
Apple declined to comment on specifics and did not respond to SumOfUs' claims. A spokesperson for the company pointed out that Apple publishes regular updates of its progress under the Supplier Responsibility section of its website.
According to the company's report, its independent auditors have found no cases of underage labor in their final assembly suppliers this year. Apple also reported its "suppliers achieved 95 percent compliance to the 60-hour work week specified in [its] code."
Earlier this month, Foxconn chief executive officer Terry Gou told Reuters that the company will split costs with Apple to improve working conditions. The move may be a response to media pressure and a voluntary agreement both companies made with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to improve working conditions by July 1, 2013.
In speaking with CBS News, Stinebrickner-Kauffman pointed out a quote from a New York Times expose published in January, where a former Apple executive spoke anonymously about the company's position on Foxconn.
"We've known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they're still going on," the former Apple executive told the Times. "Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn't have another choice."
Stinebrickner-Kauffman said, regarding the site's launch, "We wanted Apple to know that someone is watching...And the time frame for improvements set by the FLA is far enough away for people to stop paying attention."
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