Hoping to attract the attention of Apple (s AAPL) fans more interested in how their iPad is made than whether the Retina display in the new iPad is worth the upgrade or not, another coordinated, multi-store protest against working conditions in Apple’s third-party manufacturers’ factories is planned for Friday.
At 8 a.m. local time, the exact time Apple is planning to open the doors of its stores to sell the first of its third-generation iPads to hordes of customers — with plenty of news cameras on hand — Change.org will hold another demonstration, this time asking Apple to create “an ethical iPad.” They are petitioning Apple to create “a worker protection strategy” to prevent worker abuse and injury. Change.org so far has a little over 251,000 signatures on the petition.
The demonstrations are planned for Apple stores in Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco.
This follows a series of protests asking for “an ethical iPhone” last month at six Apple stores. Those attracted some media attention, but none were coordinated around an event like a new product sale. Apple typically has long lines of customers ready to buy new products at its stores the first day they’re available, so Change.org will definitely have a bigger audience and potentially better media coverage for Friday’s protest.
Apple has taken steps to assure its customers that it is trying to improve the conditions at its partners’ factories. Last month the company sent representatives of the Fair Labor Association, a trade group Apple joined in January, to inspect contract manufacturer Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen, China. Audits are also scheduled for Foxconn’s Chengdu facility, and the factories of suppliers Quanta and Pegatron.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged the outcry from concerned customers and investors, saying, “We believe that every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment, free of discrimination, where they can earn competitive wages and they can voice their concerns freely. And Apple suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple.”
The leader of this ongoing protest, Mark Shields, said he appreciates the steps Apple is taking, but wants to draw more attention to new products like the iPad.
“It’s great to see Apple taking important steps like the factory audit this month, and pay raises for the factory workers,” said Shields in a statement. “But Apple hasn’t crossed the finish line yet. New product releases, like the iPad 3 this week, have typically been the most dangerous for workers because of the incredible pressure they are under to meet release production deadlines.”