The Other Side of Apple

The Other Side of Apple

“Apple behaved differently from the other big brands and seemed totally complacent and unresponsive,”

said to Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a well-known Chinese NGO and the main author of the report.

Dans son rapport The Other Side of Apple, l’organisation non gouvernementale (ONG) Institute of Environmental and Public Affairs (IPE) basée à Pékin dénonce les pratiques sociales et environnementales d’Apple. Le rapport se base sur des enquêtes de terrain menées par 36 ONG chez les sous-traitants de la firme à la pomme.


Selon l’IPE, porte parole des 36 ONG, Apple arrive dernier d’un groupe de 29 fabricants de produits informatiques et de télécommunication : HP, Samsung, Toshiba, LG, Nokia, etc. Le rapport dénonce les risques sanitaires auxquels sont exposés les salariés des sous-traitants d’Apple. « Chez des fournisseurs d’Apple, des travailleurs ont été empoisonnés et sont restés handicapés, des groupes humains et des quartiers ont été pollués et il y a eu de graves violations des droits, des intérêts et de la dignité des travailleurs » démontre l’IPE dans une vidéo.


Among the allegations made by workers interviewed by the NGOs

The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) – are claims that:

Excessive overtime is routine, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. One payslip, seen by the Observer, indicated that the worker had performed 98 hours of overtime in a month.

Workers attempting to meet the huge demand for the first iPad were sometimes pressured to take only one day off in 13.

In some factories badly performing workers are required to be publicly humiliated in front of colleagues.

Crowded workers' dormitories can sleep up to 24 and are subject to strict rules. One worker told the NGO investigators that he was forced to sign a "confession letter" after illicitly using a hairdryer. In the letter he wrote: "It is my fault. I will never blow my hair inside my room. I have done something wrong. I will never do it again."

In the wake of a spate of suicides at Foxconn factories last summer, workers were asked to sign a statement promising not to kill themselves and pledging to "treasure their lives".

Foxconn produced its first iPad at Chengdu last November and expects to produce 100m a year by 2013. Last year Apple sold more than 15m iPads worldwide and has already sold close to five million this year.

When the allegations were put to Foxconn by the Observer, manager Louis Woo confirmed that workers sometimes worked more than the statutory overtime limit to meet demand from western consumers, but claimed that all the extra hours were voluntary. Workers claim that, if they turn down excessive demands for overtime, they will be forced to rely on their basic wage: workers in Chengdu are paid only 1,350 yuan (£125) a month for a basic 48-hour week, equivalent to about 65p an hour.

Asked about the suicides that have led to anti-suicide netting being fitted beneath the windows of workers' dormitories, Woo said: "Suicides were not connected to bad working conditions. There was a copy effect. If one commits suicide, then others will follow."

INTRODUCTION (Du rapport The Other Side of Apple)

Since 2007, Apple has used a combination of style, design and innovative technology to create a sales frenzy over its iPad, iPhone, and other products. Whenever new Apple products go on sale, crowds of fans eager to be the first to get their hands on them line up overnight in cities like New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Behind their stylish image, however, Apple products have a side that many do not know about—pollution and poison. This side is hidden deep within the company‘s secretive supply chain, out of view from the public.

At the same time that Apple has been breaking sales records, workers making its products have been harmed by toxic chemicals. Many of the employees who have been sickened still suffer physically and emotionally. Their labor rights and basic dignity have been ignored and their communities have been burdened with polluted water and air.

The year 2010 witnessed a rash of suicides at the company Foxconn, a major Apple supplier. In all, twelve employees jumped from the tops of buildings, ten of them to their deaths. The grief and pain of these ten young lives cut short is still felt today. Given that Apple rarely discloses information regarding its supply chain, it is hard for the public to know Apple‘s views, other than what was released in a simple statement which merely commented that it was “saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn.”

On the web, however, an e-mail conversation unfolded between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and an Apple customer about the employee suicides—offering a glimpse of Apple‘s treatment of its suppliers and the value that it places on the lives of their employees.

The following conversation was posted on a blog named MacStories, a weblog with daily coverage of all things Apple. iOS and Mac news, reviews, rumors, tutorials. MacStories was launched in April 2009 and is written by the Apple obsessed, to the Apple obsessed.

An Apple device user, Jay Yerex, posted an e-mail from an NGO that called attention to the suicides at Foxconn related to iPad production. He had previously forwarded this letter to Steve Jobs, along with a screenshot of an accompanying message he sent to Jobs that read: “Steve, Apple can do better!

Shortly after, Jobs wrote back and said:

“Although every suicide is tragic, Foxconn‟s rate is well below the China average. We are all over this.”

The internet user, Jay, did not really understand the part of the reply he got from Steve Jobs where Jobs uses the American expression: “We are all over this” so he sent another message asking him to clarify what he‘d said. Mr. Jobs then sent this user of the Mac website a link to Apple‘s Corporate Social Responsibility website (Apple – Supplier Responsibility2), and at the same time replied to his question saying: “You should educate yourself. We do more than any other company on the planet.”

The following is the link to Apple‘s Corporate Social Responsibility website:

Apple – Supplier Responsibility.

The first thing you see when you open this webpage is this glorious promise from Apple: “Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility wherever our products are made.”

The first paragraph on the website ―Apple‘s Supplier Code of Conduct‖ says:

“Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in Apple‟s supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.”

So, in practice does Apple really fulfill these kinds of promises? Has Apple really ensured the highest standards of social responsibility whenever making their productsWith respect to Apple‘s social responsibility in its supply chain, do they really “do more than any other company on the planet” as their CEO has said?

After a difficult investigation we finally managed to clear away some of the dense fog that enshrouds Apple‘s supply chain. After comparing Apple‘s commitment with their actual performance we were surprised to find a brand with two such contrasting sides.

The Other Side of Apple - 2


  1. gravatar

    # by Anonyme - 19 août 2011 à 08 h 57

    Pretty insightful. Thanks!

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