Apple customers unhappy with the way their gadgets are produced are calling on the company to overhaul its contractors' production lines ahead of future product introductions, including what may become an iPhone 5. Watchdog group SumOfUs, which calls itself a new world-wide movement for a better global economy, started an online petition asking the company to make the iPhone ethically

More than 35,000 people signed the petition within the first 24 hours. 

Every day, tens of millions of people will swipe the screens of their iPhones to unlock them, the petition says. On the other side of the world, a young girl is also swiping those screens. In fact, every day, during her 12+ hour shifts, six days a week, she repetitively swipes tens of thousands of them. She spends those hours inhaling n-hexane, a potent neurotoxin used to clean iPhone glass, because it dries a few seconds faster than a safe alternative. After just a few years on the line, she will be fired because the neurological damage from the n-hexane and the repetitive stress injuries to her wrists and hands make her unable to continue performing up to standard.

The iPhone 5, the highly anticipated smartphone expected sometime this year, can be made under acceptable working conditions, the petition says. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn't have another choice. According to an anonymous Apple executive quoted in The New York Times, all Apple has to do is demand it, and it'll happen.

The New York Times  published two stories last month detailing conditions in factories owned by Hon Hai Precision Industries of Taiwan,  known as Foxconn, which also produces items for Samsung Electronics, Microsoft, Amazon and others. The Times reports focused on unsafe working conditions, detailing an explosion at an iPad plant which killed four and injured 18.

It also focused on Lai Xiaodong, a 22-year-old worker making $22 a day at one of the factories. Mr. Lai was soon spending 12 hours a day, six days a week inside the factory, according to his paychecks, The New York Times reported. Employees who arrived late were sometimes required to write confession letters and copy quotations. There were 'continuous shifts,' when workers were told to work two stretches in a row, according to interviews.

Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an internal memo last week that leaked, Cnet reported, in which he wrote any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us.

SomOfUs executive director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, however, doesn't believe him. If Tim Cook is really offended by these allegations, why isn't he doing anything to fix the problems? This is the supply chain he set up as COO -- he needs to start taking responsibility, not blaming the messenger, she wrote.