Sam Gurney: It's too little, too late – but it still offers hope of a better future

Share
Related Topics

Apple's decision to investigate the working conditions at its factories in China is long overdue, and more work is needed to ensure meaningful change.

The company cannot claim to have been ignorant of the conditions in the places that assembled its goods – the incredibly long shifts and the dangerous working conditions, to name a couple.

These conditions have been apparent for many years, and yet little has been done. We would all like to think Apple is now acting because it feels it should, but the reality is that this would not have happened without the pressure brought on it by campaigners and consumers.

Large multinationals like Apple are incredibly concerned about their brand and reputation, so highlighting the inhumane conditions in its factories has a powerful effect. It is encouraging to see that as the electronics industry has grown, so too has the pressure from people who buy its products to ensure they are ethically sourced.

It took many years for the movement against the use of sweatshops in the textile industry to gather pace and become a real force. Today, a similar movement for the electronics industry is finding its voice. The pressure on Apple has built to the stage where it has to take the allegations against it seriously.

What matters now is how it responds. Everyone knows that audits are not enough – there is an entire industry devoted to getting around them. The only way to improve the conditions is to involve the workers themselves and ask: how can we make things more tolerable?

Apple should be encouraging its suppliers to allow independent worker organisation and unions in their factories; experience has shown that this method produces results. These companies should strive to make working conditions not merely tolerable, but decent. This is a basic human right, so it shouldn't be too much to ask of one of the world's biggest and most profitable brands.

Sam Gurney is Policy Officer in the TUC's European Union and International Relations Department, specialising in international labour standards.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

People Change Manager

£260 - £325 per day: Progressive Recruitment: IT Trainer: E-Commerce Experienc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, showing the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau  

Boko Haram is a vicious sideshow - Nigeria's self-serving elite is the real culprit

Kevin Watkins
 

We need to talk about homophobia in the police

George Gillett
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn