Consumer advocate Ralph Nader asks Apple to pay workers more

Consumer advocate, Ralph Nader has asked Apple to pay its workers more money rather than giving in to the demands of activist investors like Carl Icahn, Business Insider India reported.

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Nader, a multiple-time presidential candidate, wrote that Apple needed to stop catering to the demands of activist investors like Icahn, and use its cash to pay workers more rather than buy back stock.

In his letter, first published by The Wall Street Journal, Nader considered a scenario in which Apple halved the hours and doubled the salary of its Foxconn workers, costing the company $5.4 billion annually.

"If instead of buying back stock," Nader wrote, "Apple had used its excess $130 billion to endow a foundation to achieve these reforms, it would have paid out -- at a conservative five percent interest --$6.5 billion annually, enough to double wages and ensure a 40-hour workweek for hundreds of thousands of iPhone workers, while leaving a $1.1 billion surplus as an annual budget for ensuring top-notch health, safety and environmental standards at Apple factories.... Finally, some of Apple's Chinese factory workers may become able to buy the iPhones they manufacture."

" 'Designed by Apple in California' has a nicer ring to it than 'Assembled by workers paid about a dollar per hour, working 11-hour shifts, and sleeping eight to a room in the Jabil Circuit corporate dormitories in Wuxi, China,'" Nader wrote in his letter. "But, no matter how you spin it on the iPhone packaging, you continue to turn away."

Apple which is one of the top customers of contract electronics maker Jabil did not comment on Nader's letter, which echoes criticism from labour activists and right groups, Reuters reported.. Nader's critique follows billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn continuing to urge the iPhone maker to buy back more shares using its $133 billion cash pile. The iPhone maker has had been slammed in the past over practices at its manufacturing partners, most of which are based in China.

A number of suicides in 2010 at Foxconn, Apple's main manufacturer, led to widespread scrutiny in 2011 of working conditions across its supply chain.

The iPhone maker had since increased audits of its manufacturing partners had brought on board, Washington-based Fair Labor Association.

Apple had conducted regular reviews and reported on improvements in areas such as overtime and pay even as it said more could be done.