In sync with today's launch of the new iPad, dozens of protestors today joined eager prospective iPad owners at Apple Stores in Georgetown, New York City, and San Francisco to protest the company's alleged worker abuse at overseas factories.
Apple has faced increasing criticism in recent months for the labor practices at the Foxconn and Pegatron locations, where the iPad and other Apple products are built, with some critics going so far as call to boycott the company until it changes its ways.
Organizers of today's protests were the same who launched online petitions at change.org and sumofus.org, asking Apple to improve the working conditions at its overseas factories. The petitions have some 250,000 signatures thus far.
According to reports, the protestor turnout numbered in the dozens, with participants handing out cards with comments from those who signed the petitions. A pair at the Georgetown Apple store wielded a banner that read: "250,000+ to Apple. Think Different, Think Ethical."
The charges against Apple aren't exactly new. Even in 2006, the company took heat for allegedly exploiting iPod manufacturing workers in southern China. Since then, continuous reports of employee suicide and dangerous and unhealthy working conditions have continued to dog the company.
Notoriously mum Apple has claimed repeatedly that it holds its suppliers to a high corporate social responsibility standard. In a recent statement to CNN, the company said: "We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple."
Still, the company has apparently leveraged some improvements at Foxconn and has pledged to spearhead more. Apple CEO Tim Cook told attendees at a recent Technology and Internet conference that those initiatives include "eliminating underage workers, educating workers on skills and safety, improving safety conditions, and managing working hours on a 'micro level,'" according to ABC News.
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