Proposal for Intervention

12145014053.jpgA proposal for intervention is a summary of an ethics breach within a business organization and proposing a plan for intervention. It should also demonstrate how that plan would be held accountable to preventing further ethics breaches.

The world has moved significantly towards globalization – with an inter-reliance between the consumption of products by those in western societies and the production of products in developing countries. Apple is a company that is the prime example of that has used supply chains in countries such as China and the marketing strategy of interspersing the arrival of each new product to become one of the most known global companies. That being said, it seems as though they still continue the malpractice of overworking their workers and not paying attention to averse working conditions. The continued assertion that they have improved their working conditions while nothing has changed while the belief pervades that things are getting better at Apple. Therefore, an independent committee that would judge the human rights violations of factory supply chains and would report back to the publics of western democracies should be put in place that Apple would have to report to in order to prove to all of us that they were able to prove the results of workers conditions they found in their investigations.

First we must acknowledge that working conditions are usually horrible in developing countries and “the lack of traction of social movements except in extreme situations” (111 Clarke and Boersma). Countries like China, Indonesia and other developing nations around the world do not have the workers’ rights we have the privilege of in the United States nor do they tolerate when a worker asks for time off, not to work over hours or to improve conditions such as lighting or sound. In 2010, 18 workers at the Foxconn Plant in Wuhan threw themselves to their deaths because of averse working conditions. A spokesperson for Foxconn said the incident was “successfully and peacefully resolved after discussions between the workers, local Foxconn officials and representatives from the local government” (119 Clarke and Boersma). The incident of the suicides was dismissed in western media as not deserving attention as much as other pressing issues and that the workers must have been/or will be grateful for the opportunity to work, but the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour examined the Foxconn plant since the issue was resolved and found that conditions “have hardly improved” (SACOM 2011) (122 Clarke and Boersma).

Apple makes claims that they are committed to making sure that their workers are healthy and happy on the job – performing routine inspections to ‘make sure’ that supply chains are conforming to the Supplier Code of Conduct. Apple states “…suppliers are required to provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, act fairly and ethically, and use environmentally responsible practices wherever they make products or perform service to Apple… Apple will assess it’s suppliers’ compliance with this Code, and any violations of this Code may jeopardize the supplier’s business relationship with Apple, up to and including termination” (Apple 2014) (Clarke and Boersma 116). Perhaps it is the inherent need to appeal to a marketplace where “it may have been imagined that human rights and labour practices would be significant matters”(116 Clarke and Boersma) that makes Apple as successful as it is in escaping human rights violations. If consumers were more educated about the need for ethical accountability within multinational corporations, the consumption of Apple products would stop – yet there are subtle brainwashing strategies in place that make sure that consumers think they are buying into a good company such as marketing strategies and commercials that focus on social justice issues. The only way to solve the crisis then would be to acknowledge that consumers cannot be the sole definer of whether a company is completely ethical and hold companies like Apple accountable to defining their accountability to an independent organization.

With the recent arrival of iPhone 7 back in 2016, another paper called China Labor Watch published another report detailing continued workers’ rights violations at factories owned by Apple factory supplier Pegatron. What was reported was that there continued to be “illegal and forced overtime hours, including wages too low for employees to live on without working overtime”(Kahn) as well as “excessive overtime hours – something it notes is not allowed by Chinese Law”(Kahn). The successive decrease in workers’ wages overtime and the demand that they work overtime has caused the workers to believe to themselves that they must work overtime due to needing “to support themselves and their families” (12 China Labor Watch). The continuing irresponsibility to it’s workers concludes that Apple has and will never change it’s policies. Thus, the solution to Apple’s supply chains requires a demanded accountability to organizations such as China Labor Watch and an independent organization that will be created and called America Consumer Watch.

America Labor Watch will demand that Apple and other multinational corporations conduct a detailed analysis of the costs and gains of supply chains in conjunction to workers’ wages and docked timed/over-timed hours. Apple will have to physically document the conditions that it’s workers are in with pictures and conducted interviews. Each multinational corporation will want to send this video to American Consumer Watch because of independent stakeholders whom, seeing the responsibility that corporations have to be accountable to workers and consumers, will spend donation money and the money of special interests to conduct a detailed, information-filled interview to the American public by Christmas time that will demonstrate the responsibilities that those corporations had fulfilled to their companies. Seeing that the consumers are educated on this subject and will become naturally inquisitive about the reasons why certain companies are not listed on this commercial will inspire a grassroots movement, however small, for consumers to investigate the production of their products and chose whether or not to buy from companies that do not hold accountability to the conditions of which their workers are forced to work within. Since Apple has not been pushing other companies to move in the direction of accountability and relying on the continued ignorance of consumers that had mistakenly believed that their companies are more focused on social justice and making the world a better place than they actually are, Apple will then be forced to make the internal changes that it said it was making in order to fit into a new marketplace that will hold companies accountable to their ethical responsibility to the community with which they are situated – even if that means losing the cheap labour of which they make their products within that has previously defined the ever-close relationship between the consumption of America and the production of China, as well as China’s competition with other .

This was the hardest paper I had to write in this class only because I had to research all the horrors of Apple’s mistreatment of it’s workers, confront their willing denial of a problem and propose an intervention strategy that would probably never be implemented due to the willing refusal to believe that Capitalism does anything but good for developing countries. It struck me rereading my essay that a government willing to fund an organization to look into multinational companies – for there is big money in politics that would refuse government intervention in business, could never be funded due to lack of public concern and perhaps privacy concerns as well from nations like China that would accuse the U.S. in interfering in the economic process. The only real solution I could see is another business attacking Apple if, and only if, they had concern for their workers and wanted to raise concern over Apple’s lack of oversight due to an economic advantage by a concerned population. It’s all too easy that this won’t happen because so many companies benefit from lax regulations and so do the governments employing their citizens in these factories. I await a change, but I’m afraid Apple’s misconduct is a legal matter that could be looked into a global court of sorts – if that sort of thing existed.

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