Sunday, 8 May 2011

Winners and Losers: Sharing Apple's Pie More Fairly

Apple Pie-31
Apple apple pie photo (& amazing pie!) by Lenore M. Edman,
Photo used under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

Hi there!

I'm going to ask you a favour, but first I'm going to tell you a little story...

There was once a little girl who had a fifth birthday party at her house. Lots of children were invited to enjoy the party. It was a hot, sunny summer's day and as the little girl lived on a farm, there was plenty of space to run around. At last the children were tired, and after they had stuffed themselves with a kids' party tea of egg sandwiches, cubes of cheese on sticks, jelly and ice-cream and red pop, they settled down in the living room carpet to play pass-the-parcel.

The little girl's mum had wrapped a parcel, at which the centre was a little toy, but under each of the 20 or so layers of wrapping paper, she'd put a Quality Street chocolate. Sitting in a circle, to the accompaniment of Radio 1, each of the children passed the parcel to the next child, and so on. Every time the music stopped, the child holding the parcel, unwrapped just one layer, and got a sweetie. Then the radio would be turned on again, and the parcel began it's circuit of the children's eager little hands.

Help! I'm drowning in Quality Street!
"Help! I'm Drowing in Quality Street!" photo by Natalie Johnson
Photo used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC 2.0
Now, I don't know how it happened, but it turned out that some children got lots of sweeties, some children got one or two, and a few more children got none at all. The little girl whose birthday it was, saw this. She didn't think it was fair. Her mum had always taught her to "share nicely", and she took this to heart. Not to say that the little girl was perfect - she was, and still is, far from perfect.

What she did next seemed to her, the logical, obvious thing to do.

She took the sweets from each of the children who had won them - whether a little pile of four sweets, or just one, and placed them in the middle of the circle. As you can imagine, there was much consternation from the other children. The little party was then divided up into two groups - the ones who had won lots of sweets (the 'winners'), and the ones who had won just one or two, or none at all (the 'losers'). The 'winners' were not happy at all. The 'losers' were very pleased with the emerging situation. The little girl, however, couldn't really see why anyone should be annoyed. As she proceeded to share out the sweets equally between all the children, she knew she was doing the right thing. She was making it fair.

Quality Street Bar Chart
"Quality Street Bar Chart", photo by Garrett Keogh
Photo used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Yes, she was incredibly naive.  She didn't realise that life just isn't fair.
As I'm sure you've now guessed, that little girl was me. To be honest, I can't remember too well how it turned out, but I do remember that there were tears from one of the 'winners' (who was getting to know how it felt to be a 'loser') and I have a sneaking suspicion that my mum came to her rescue and made a mess of my fairer re-distribution of the chocolate wealth by making up the perceived deficit.

So at last, this brings me back to the favour I was going to ask you. I heard in the news recently about the working conditions at certain factories in China which manufacture iPads and iPhones. They do make other companies' products there, but Apple is the main client. As you can appreciate, Apple is a very very rich company; they made a profit of $6 billion in just the first quarter of 2011. And we love their products; they're attractive, well-designed and very useful. The only problem is, Apple isn't living up to their clean, friendly image. The electronics manufacturing company, Foxconn, which Apple employs to make iPads and iPhones, don't treat their employees with much dignity, fairness or compassion. And I don't think that's acceptable when Apple is making such massive profits, and telling us that they're a socially responsible company, when that just isn't true.

Worker at Northern Campus - Chengdu - China
Workers at the Foxconn Northern Campus at Chengdu, China. Exhausted and resting, during 10 minutes break.
Photo used by kind permission of . All rights reserved.
The little naive child inside me is telling me that the wealth should be shared. That people should be given some basic dignities such as being able to sit down at some point in their 14-hour working day.  To not have to work overtime just to make ends meet.  To have the same rest breaks that we get.  To be allowed to talk at work.  And not be driven to despair by the job they do.

If you'd like to find out more, and ask Steve Jobs to share out his massive pile of Quality Street chocs more fairly, please click on this link to go to my online petition:

It's quick, simple, and you don't have to do anything else.

For more info, click these links:
SACOM's latest report, "Foxconn and Apple Fail to Fulfill Promises: Predicaments of Workers after the Suicides"
Make IT Fair
Make IT Fair on Facebook - join the group
Campaign Demands poster
FAQs about the campaign against unfair IT

Thank you for reading!

Best wishes
Joey xx

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