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UPDATE June 27, 2012: Another independent research group, China Labor Watch, has released a report that "reveals that serious work-related injuries and worker suicides are by no means isolated to just Foxconn but exist throughout Apple’s supply chain." How many more independent researchers will there be finding major problems before Apple finally fixes working conditions? Click here to download the CLW report.

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UPDATE May 31, 2012: Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong-Kong based research group, has released a report based on interviews with Apple factory workers after Apple committed to improve working conditions. SACOM's report confirms that Foxconn, Apple's main supplier in China, has indeed not made changes to really improve workers' lives -- for example, workers have seen their overtime hours reduced to a more reasonable level, but their base pay has not increased, meaning that they are now earning less per week than they were before Apple pledged to treat workers ethically.

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Since Apple committed on March 29, 2012 to addressing working conditions in the Chinese factories that build iPhones, iPods and iPads, little has changed in the day-to-day lives of the hundreds of thousands of workers who make our iGadgets. Many workers are still forced to work illegal and excessive overtime, and others have had their overtime hours cut back but are still paid poverty wages so they can no longer make ends meet — all while Apple continues to rake in tens of billions of dollars as the most profitable company in the world.

Here's what would it take for our iGadgets to truly be made ethically:

Pay workers a living wage

End illegal overtime

Eliminate hazardous working conditions

Support worker participation in decision-making

Welcome genuinely independent monitoring

End the use of involuntary labor

Actually make changes, unlike in 2006

Why are we focusing only on Apple?

As the largest company in the world, Apple has the cash, the centralized supply chain, and the organizational heft to push the Chinese manufacturing industry to change its practices -- and if Apple acts, it could mean a sea change for the entire industry, with workers’ rights finally being considered as important as production quotas across the manufacturing sector. No other company can lead like Apple can.

Sources

This document draws heavily, and sometimes quotes directly from, an open letter to Tim Cook signed by several dozen organizations, a SumOfUs.org memo to journalists on the FLA report, and Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct (which Apple admits its suppliers violate regularly).