Apple employees protest dirty toilets

24 Sep 2012

It seems staff unrest at Apple is spreading beyond the workers at Chinese factory Foxconn, which assembles devices for the vendor.

Shop staff in Paris, France, took to the streets last week to protest poor working conditions, adding an unusual twist to the image of lines of people waiting to get their hands on the latest iPhone.

The list of worker’s complaints is intriguing. The Wall Street Journal reports that in addition to demanding more money, which you might expect, the 40 Paris store staff are also calling for “cleaner toilets and better air conditioning.”

Those are the kind of issues you’d expect to hear in relation to the Industrial Revolution, rather than a 21st century shop.

However, what is perhaps more shocking is the Journal’s explanation of the impact of the protest on customers waiting in line to buy the new smartphone. One woman noted she is “against it ideologically”, but that the “product is very good,” as she proceeded with her purchase.

In other words, ‘I sympathize and agree with your protest, but I want the phone more.’

When it comes to complaints on the manufacturing front, it’s wrong to single out Apple. Every handset vendor has outsourced production and may face questions over the working conditions in their partner’s factories.

But, when it comes to the conditions behind the façade of the shiny Apple stores in a developed market, the firm must take some action. Just look at France Telecom’s reaction to soaring staff suicides for the reason why.

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