Watchdog groups and protesters are joining forces to put pressure on Apple to improve the working conditions in Chinese factories that make up the company’s supply chain, particularly those workers responsible for assembling the iPhone.

Investigative reporting by the New York Times and others uncovered troubling details of poor working conditions and safety issues that have sparked petition campaigns by SumOfUs and that have gathered more than 250,000 signatures. According to CNET News:

Both petitions are being delivered to stores tomorrow, with a delivery to Apple’s recently opened Grand Central Terminal store happening at 10 a.m. Eastern. The group said it’s producing “large iPhone posters” and printed handouts to coincide with its delivery.

This controversy brings up a lot of issues that plague the electronics industry — not only Apple. Outsourcing manufacturing jobs pits ethical standards against the ability to deliver an affordable product and maintain a competitive edge. And while Apple is not alone in this dilemma, as an industry leader with record profits the company has to expect extra scrutiny. How do you think Apple will respond to the pressure? Considering the popularity of Apple products, will consumers demand better conditions for workers even though it means an even more expensive iPhone, iPad, etc.?

New development:

ZDNet: Apple’s external inspections of Foxconn a good first step