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Apple blingware from sweatshops and child labour...

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PDR
1106386.  Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:30 pm Reply with quote

I hope you iBling addicts can sleep well after yet more revelations about how they are made and what a steaming pile of hypocritical shites their manufacturers really are. They make Putin look like the benchmark model of benevolence and ethical conduct...

PDR

 
Leith
1106394.  Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:48 pm Reply with quote

The electronics industry has a lot of ethical problems generally. It's hard to get reliable information, but I try to make some sort effort towards a semi-informed ethical judgement when I'm buying big ticket items like phones, TVs etc.

When I've done so previously, looking at labour conditions, environmental controls and, especially, use of conflict minerals*, I've found Apple to be the worst brand apart from ... pretty much all the others**.

Their supplier Foxconn, around whom much of the previous high profile condemnation focused, also supply most of the other major electronics manufacturers, notably Sony, Amazon, Google (through Motorola), and Nokia. Other manufacturers, like Samsung, have faced their own criticisms of labour conditions.
http://www.ibtimes.com/chinese-contractors-foxconns-underage-worker-use-affects-sony-google-apple-amazon-nokia-847987

Apple's record remains in dire need of improvement, and I can well believe they have been ethically overrated in the past (ethical consumerism remains an underdeveloped field, and I've often the found the sort of ethical surveys I look at to be easily fooled).

The Panorama investigation looks like it's found information worth knowing. But it needs considering alongside equivalent data on the competition if we're to use it to make informed purchasing decisions.

* Here's a good place to start on use of conflict minerals, though unfortunately their company rankings are getting a bit out of date now:
http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/

** Despite this I don't actually own any big ticket Apple products (they're not ideal for engineers who like tinkering with things), though I do have an ancient iPod Shuffle.

 
barbados
1106414.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:22 am Reply with quote

You say that like Apple are the only ones guilty of using sweatshops PDR.

The location of many of the electronics manufacturers alone should tell you that, but like a lot of things, we don't really care. All we really want is to get the latest tech at rock bottom prices. Its just the way we are.

 
bemahan
1106424.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:35 am Reply with quote

Quote:
The location of many of the electronics manufacturers alone should tell you that, but like a lot of things, we don't really care. All we really want is to get the latest tech at rock bottom prices. Its just the way we are.

Which depressingly seems to appy to many manufactured items in the UK.

 
14-11-2014
1106446.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:18 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
All we really want is to get the latest tech at rock bottom prices.

Or Apple's products.

 
brunel
1106448.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:35 am Reply with quote

Leith wrote:
The electronics industry has a lot of ethical problems generally. It's hard to get reliable information, but I try to make some sort effort towards a semi-informed ethical judgement when I'm buying big ticket items like phones, TVs etc.

When I've done so previously, looking at labour conditions, environmental controls and, especially, use of conflict minerals*, I've found Apple to be the worst brand apart from ... pretty much all the others**.

Their supplier Foxconn, around whom much of the previous high profile condemnation focused, also supply most of the other major electronics manufacturers, notably Sony, Amazon, Google (through Motorola), and Nokia. Other manufacturers, like Samsung, have faced their own criticisms of labour conditions.
http://www.ibtimes.com/chinese-contractors-foxconns-underage-worker-use-affects-sony-google-apple-amazon-nokia-847987

Apple's record remains in dire need of improvement, and I can well believe they have been ethically overrated in the past (ethical consumerism remains an underdeveloped field, and I've often the found the sort of ethical surveys I look at to be easily fooled).

The Panorama investigation looks like it's found information worth knowing. But it needs considering alongside equivalent data on the competition if we're to use it to make informed purchasing decisions.

* Here's a good place to start on use of conflict minerals, though unfortunately their company rankings are getting a bit out of date now:
http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/

** Despite this I don't actually own any big ticket Apple products (they're not ideal for engineers who like tinkering with things), though I do have an ancient iPod Shuffle.

It's certainly the case that, if you look at just a few of some of Apple's rivals, you can see that they are just as bad, if not in some instances worse, than Apple are.

As one example, it could be pointed out that Samsung are currently fighting off legal challenges from workers who claim to have contracted leukaemia from carcinogenic chemicals used by Samsung in their production facilities (having already lost a case in 2011 which supported the claims that their production processes were putting workers lives at risk). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27407493

Equally, back in 2012, at around the time Apple were being criticised for labour standards, Samsung were also subject to accusations of workers being abused and overworked. However, despite the fact that those accusations were widely published, I don't recall any attacks being launched on Samsung when those complaints were raised.

 
cornixt
1106466.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:08 am Reply with quote

It's so easy to see the Apple/Android divide for some people on threads like this.

 
PDR
1106482.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:10 pm Reply with quote

I don't use android stuff either...

PDR

 
barbados
1106483.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:27 pm Reply with quote

Microsoft aren't any better ethically.

 
14-11-2014
1106498.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 2:56 pm Reply with quote

cornixt wrote:
It's so easy to see the Apple/Android divide for some people on threads like this.


Are you sure? You'll have to add Nokia's S60 (offline maps, no Microsoft) to your list if it should include me, and I'm not going to advocate S60 or the position of the Chinese government.

 
PDR
1106508.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:53 pm Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
Microsoft aren't any better ethically.


My wife has a windows phone, but I don't.

But I'm not sure that statement stands scrutiny. Microsoft make a point of paying full and proper taxes (a shareholder once tried to sue them fair failing to take full advantage of potential tax avoidance opportunities), makes substantial charitable donations, funds numerous educational and medical endowments and its founder is on a mission to give away 90% of his fortune to needy causes. Apple makes no charitable donations AT ALL, and hasn't done so for many years, and has been criticised for its aggressive tax optimisation strategies. And let's not get started on monopolistic practices...

PDR

 
barbados
1106517.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:01 pm Reply with quote

When you say no charitable donations, you obviously mean except the project red fund that Apple support. And when you say Microsoft pay full taxation, you mean, except the $4million they save per day by routing large chunks of their business through Puerto Rico.

That whole sector is well known for poor business ethics.

 
suze
1106522.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:46 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
Apple makes no charitable donations AT ALL, and hasn't done so for many years.


This was indeed the case for a long time and it's always been slightly puzzling. Steve Jobs was a Buddhist and his religion is usually keen on charitable giving, but one possible explanation is that he did give lots of money of charity but preferred not to talk about it.

This would fit with Buddhist belief that one should not expect anything in return for one's charitable giving. Certain others of the megarich rather like the publicity which attends to giving large sums of money away, and Mr Jobs might have considered that unseemly.

There has been a certain amount of speculation about a very large and very anonymous donation which was received by the hospital where Mr Jobs received treatment for cancer. The hospital either wouldn't say or genuinely never knew where the money had come from, but two and two quite often do make four.


But, and as barbados notes, the corporation has resumed charitable giving since Mr Job's passing. Cancer charities have been its #1 priority, together with - and as noted - Bono's Project Red. I'm not sure that that latter was the best possible choice of charity, but it's certainly high profile.

 
barbados
1106539.  Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:52 pm Reply with quote

The project red deal is one of the higher profile, and while it is Bono's baby so to speak it's high profile does lend itself to the other causes that Apple support.

It is quite easy to tell how much of your purchase is going to "good causes", it is based on the colour of the product you buy. As an example, the latest iPod nano, purchased from the Apple store would cost you 129. It would cost suze somewhere in the region of 110, as they can give up to 15% discount to those involved in education. That is roughly the cost of the sale to the store, hence the roughly in the discounted price.
Were suze to buy a red iPod nano, it would cost her 129, the same as anyone else. The reason for this is, of the 129 the store charges you, 129 of that goes to the "good cause" pot, then shared out in accordance with their agreements with the charities supported.

 
Leith
1106658.  Sat Dec 20, 2014 9:23 pm Reply with quote

More on conflict minerals, and the FairPhone project:

I'm interested in all the ethical issues around production of smart phones and other consumer electronics but, for me, there's one issue that stands out. This is the effort (or lack of) that manufacturers make to ensure that their purchase of raw materials is not fueling conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

George Monbiot takes a similar attitude in this 2013 article:
Guardian: My search for a smartphone that is not soaked in blood

George Monbiot wrote:
For 17 years, rival armies and militias have been fighting over the region's minerals. Among them are metals critical to the manufacture of electronic gadgets, without which no smartphone would exist: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold.

While these elements are by no means the only reason for conflict there, they help to fund it, supporting a fragmented war that through direct killings, displacement, disease and malnutrition has now killed several million people. Rival armies have forced local people to dig in extremely dangerous conditions, have extorted minerals and money from self-employed miners, have tortured, mutilated and murdered those who don't comply, and have spread terror and violence including gang rape and child abduction through the rest of the population. I do not want to participate.


His investigations picked out Nokia as having gone furthest of all the major manufacturers towards removing conflict minerals from its supply chain. It'll be interesting to see the impact of the new US Dodd-Frank Act on forcing supply chain transparency.

The article also mentions an initiative that was new to me: the FairPhone crowd-sourcing project to create a product based on socially-responsible principles* including conflict-free minerals, safe and fair factory working conditions, longer product life time and easier recycling. I'm not exactly clear on how fully the project has achieved these goals, but it seems to have done a lot of good work towards them, and the first FairPhone was launched on the UK market a few weeks ago.

* It remains a commercial product, I think, so I shan't provide any direct links.

 

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