On Wednesday, activists started drawing attention to their event with a press release stating that they would bring over 250,000 signatures to the Grand Central Terminal store, trying to reveal claims of employee abuse at Foxconn to the general public. As CNet reports, a small bunch of supporters who arrived on Thursday were far outnumbered by media representatives to cover the meeting.
The event was organized by Change.org and SumofUS, and it was reportedly meant to hand-deliver the petitions and drum up attention to labor conditions at Chinese plants that manufacture products like iPhone instead of gathering a large crowd. “Apple was surely prepared for us,” organizer Sarah Ryan commented. “They were very polite. We hope they will give the signatures some thinking.” Though not calling for a boycott of Apple products, the activists hope that the iPhone maker will address employee working environment overseas more closely.
The petitions follow a few media reports focusing on Foxconn and its relationship with the Cupertino electronics developer. Late in January, The New York Times repeatedly highlighted the “human costs” Apple throws into the iPhone and other products, while CNN published an interview with an anonymous Foxconn employee this week who revealed a sad truth about working conditions at the Chinese facilities.
Media have largely described Foxconn as the company that deprives workers of adequate benefits, often forcing them to work long overtime hours. While employees have also organized demonstrations, a number of Foxconn workers threatened suicide at a plant making Xbox 360 consoles for Microsoft earlier this year.
Apple, for its part, seems to be offended with accusations of neglecting attitude to labor conditions overseas. Last month, Tim Cook sent an e-mail to employees, stating that the company will keep scrutinizing its supply chain and is poised to find more problems, but that Apple will never ignore worker-related issues.