Apple Inc. faces ethics allegations

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Technology giant Apple Inc. recently come under fire for ethical issues related to working conditions in its China-based factories, according to “The New York Times.”

The allegations come on the cusp of the U.S. Air Force’s announcement that they will possibly make a large purchase of iPads (up to 18,000) directly from the company.

Apple, famous for quick production rates and relatively cheap prices of its popular iPhone and iPod series, out sources the assembly of these devices to factories in China.

However, recent
attempted suicides from workers have put the company under a microscope, as protests assemble and outcry from human rights group continue to grow.

According to Business Week, the possible iPad purchase by the Air Force would make stronger connections between Apple and the American government.

“The New York Times” claims that factory workers, particularly in the Foxconn Technology Group factories that are a main contractor with Apple, are forced to live in crowded dorm rooms and work on their feet so long that their legs swell.

According to Fox News, workers at Foxconn only make $1.78 an hour.

The factory installed nets around its buildings to discourage employees from jumping to their deaths after the previous suicides of iPhone factory workers.

Change, however, might be unlikely – Apple has received criticism for focusing more on the quality and efficiency of their products than on the human factor behind them, but it is this quality and efficiency that keeps the price of Apple electronics down and popular among its consumer base.

According to CNN, protesters were present at a half-dozen Apple stores in February.

On Feb. 21, ABC Nightline aired an exclusive special on the conditions at Foxconn after the factory agreed to open its doors for the station.

However, consumers who also wish to boycott Apple products due to this might find few alternatives for their technology needs. The factories that produce Apple’s iPhones also produce other electronics, like Samsung tablets, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and HP and Toshiba laptops.

Foxconn, the factory that has come under the most criticism for its treatment of workers, claims their employees receive salary rates and health benefits unavailable to most factory workers in China.

Their suicide rates are also significantly less than in other parts of China.

Recently, factories contracted with Apple started many services to help workers cope with their jobs, including counseling services and other stress- relieving activities.

In a statement released to CNN, Apple said, “We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. 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. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.”

Although technology ethics are nothing new, Apple in particular has recently come under pressure for the failings of their production lines, and it remains to be seen how much of a change will be enacted and whether it will affect the successes of the future Apple products.

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