Poisoned Chinese Apple workers pen letter to consumers

Nathan Pensky · February 22, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2482

Two Apple supply factory workers write open letter to Apple consumers, claiming harmful conditions

Apple has been catching a lot of heat in the past few months for reports that have emerged out of some of the factories in their supply chain, specifically one company in south China, called Foxconn. A string of human rights violations have come out of Foxconn, as well as disturbing reports about employees committing suicide due to unfair practices.

Now two Chinese workers who have experienced poor working conditions in an Apple supply factory are trying to connect with Apple consumers themselves, by way of the advocacy of consumer watchdog group SumOfUs. 

Two workers, Guo Rui-Qiang and Jia Jing-Chuan, wrote open letters to Apple consumers, talking about how their jobs cleaning iPhone touch screens caused their nerves to be permanently damaged by n-hexane, a chemical used during cleaning.

"In early 2010, it was independently confirmed that 137 workers, including us, were poisoned by a chemical called n-hexane which was used to clean iPhone screens," said the letter. "N-hexane is known to cause eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation, and leads to persistant nerve damage. Apple admitted to gross labour rights violations more than a year later."

"We have been pressuring Apple, and its new CEO Tim Cook, for years to compensate those of us who were injured working for them, and demanding reform of working conditions at their Chinese factories so that their workers don’t suffer like we do," the letter continues.

You can read the letter in full here, as well as sign the attached petition.

Among the violations practiced by those in its supply chain, including component suppliers and final assembly, as listed in Apple's audit report, there were breaches in pay and benefits for workers, environmental waste and disposal violations, and unsafe machinery.

Apple also found instances of underage workers in five of its suppliers, and subsequently required these suppliers to encourage the young workers to return to school and add age-verification systems to their hiring process. Over 90 factories were found that had workers exceeding 60 hours of work per week, with only one day of rest. Evidence of anti-discrimination rule violation against workers who were pregnant or had Hepatitis B were also found, and Apple made these companies cease such activity.

Apple and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) announced only last week that they would join in an unprecedented investigation into the company's supply and manufacturing line in response to continued outcry over reported unfair working conditions, notably labor infractions in factories of Apple supplier Foxconn in southern China.

The FLA will independently assess practices along Apple's supply chain and report detailed findings on its website, said the organization in the release. Tuesday's announcement marks the first time a major technology corporation has joined the association as a Participating Company.

As a part of ongoing efforts by Apple to purge the sketchy reputation surrounding its main supplier, Apple invited ABC's Nightline correspondent Bill Weir into a Foxconn factory for a news report to be broadcast Tuesday night. Weir interviewed a company advisor, questioning him about everything from factory explosions to the mass employee suicides.

As far as this report was able to show, no abuse was present in the factories beyond what has already been reported. 

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