Saturday, September 03, 2011

[olympiaworkers] Poisoned Chinese Workers Demand Action from Apple CEO Successor

by Debby Chan Talking Union

The poisoned workers at Wintek, an Apple supplier in Suzhou, China, have
been awaiting a response from Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple.
Regrettably, he had not responded before his resignation. The poisoned
workers hope the new Apple CEO, Tim Cook, will live up to its claim of
corporate social responsibility and provide them remedies.

Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) supports the
cause of the victims and calls on Tim Cook to address the grievances of
the poisoned workers and provide remedies for them.

The massive poisoning at Wintek is a serious breach of the labour law and
Apple's code of conduct. Corporate social responsibility is no more than
rhetoric if there is no remedy to the workers for the code infringement.
SACOM demands Apple under the leadership of Tim Cook has dialogue with the
workers as soon as possible.

A strike erupted at the Taiwanese-owned electronics manufacturer Wintek,
which produces touch screens for the iPhone, in early 2010. The rumour of
massive poisoning was confirmed by the local authorities after the strike.
According to the workers, about 200 of them were poisoned by the chemical
called n-hexane which leads to nerve damage. Apple only admitted the gross
labour rights violation in its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report one
year later. The company stated there were 137 workers hospitalized due to
the poisoning and that all of them had been successfully treated. In
reality, 2 years on after the poisoning, the workers still feel weak and
suffer from symptoms of relapse including sweaty hands and feet, and leg

Mr. Jia Jing-chuan, a former engineer at Wintek, confided that he remains
worried about his health even now. He spends about CNY 500-600 (USD
$78-94) for health supplements per month because he feels weak. Mr. Jia
has recently resigned from Wintek and is taking rest in his hometown.
"Steve Jobs was indifferent to our poisoning and evaded his
responsibility. The new CEO should live up to corporate social
responsibility. There should be policies to protect the poisoned workers
and pay the health expenditures for the victims. Our predicament is solely
inflicted by the negligence of Apple though we contribute so much to the
revenue of the company. I also call on Apple to reform its audit system to
prevent similar tragedy," said Mr. Jia angrily.

"I hope the new Apple CEO can assure the company will take care of our
health problems in the future," Mr. Guo Rui-qiang, another victim of the
poisoning, requested. Guo expressed bitterly that he has difficulties in
looking for a new job owing to his poor health condition. "Many jobs
require me to stand for long hours, but my health condition does not allow
me to perform standing-operations anymore," he added.

Debby Chan is Project Officer at SACOM (Students & Scholars Against
Corporate Misbehavior) in Hong Kong.

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