Labour activists to target Apple at flagship opening
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Labour rights activists are expected to stage a protest today at the opening of Apple's flagship store in Hong Kong.
The non-profit advocacy group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) plans to demonstrate at about 11.15am against alleged rampant workers' rights violations at the mainland factories that produce popular Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad. The plants are owned and controlled by Foxconn Technology Group.
Sacom spokeswoman Debby Chan Sze-wan said the group would release a new investigative report alleging unsafe working conditions, low wages and other labour violations at Foxconn's plant in Zhengzhou, Henan province, which manufactures iPhones.
'Sacom calls on concerned consumers to denounce brands, including Apple, that grow at the cost of workers' rights,' Chan said.
'Pressure from consumers would spur these brands to carry out reforms.'
An Apple spokeswoman in Beijing declined to comment.
In February, Apple said in a supplier responsibility report that it planned to pursue 'more aggressive audits' this year at the factories of its mainland suppliers in a bid to address key labour issues.
The company said it was 'disturbed and deeply saddened' by suicides last year at Foxconn plants. The deaths prompted it to hire suicide-prevention specialists and to commission an independent review of its Taiwanese supplier's operations.
Foxconn, which employs more than a million workers on the mainland, ran its factories like 'labour camps' that violated the mainland's labour laws, according to a report published in October by 20 universities in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland.
By 4.30pm yesterday, 19 customers were waiting in line for the store to open. Lui Cheung, 84, said he had never bought an Apple product and was looking forward to getting a free T-shirt. 'I'm not afraid of being tired because this is exciting,' Lui said.
Henry Men Yong-fan travelled from Beijing to join the queue yesterday afternoon, saying this would be his fourth Apple store opening.
'I'm not really here to buy anything. I love Apple and just want to interact with other fans,' the Peking University nanotechnology doctoral student said.
Gary Allan, from San Francisco, also joined the queue yesterday afternoon. He has been to about 50 Apple Store openings around the world.