Apple’s iPhone touchscreen supplier Wintek faces violent employee strike in China

January Clearance Blowout ends 1/14“More than 2,000 workers at a Wintek Corp. factory in Suzhou, China, have gone on strike and destroyed equipment at their factory, potentially straining the supply of parts for Apple’s iPhone,” Katie Marsal reports for AppleInsider.

“According to China Daily, factory workers last week damaged equipment and vehicles in response to a number of alleged deaths from overexposure to toxic chemicals,” Marsal reports. “Employees said they did not accept the local government’s investigation into the matter. Bloomberg reported that the factory is a component supplier for the iPhone.”

“On Friday, workers gathered in the morning and caused damage at the Suzhou Industrial Park,” Marsal reports. “They also blocked off a road and threw rocks at police, though no casualties were reported.”

Marsal reports, “Various reports said that the workers were reacting to rumors of a canceled 2009 bonus, but one worker told China Daily the matter was not solely about money. ‘What we feel angry about is the company authorities’ apathy to our workers’ health,’ said a worker named Zhu. He also added that employees have been overworked and underpaid.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s Supplier Responsibility, Supplier Code of Conduct, and more info here.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a U.S. federal holiday. The markets are closed today in the U.S. and many people have the day off. Consequently, while we expect news to be somewhat light, we do hope to bring you Apple-related news throughout the day.


  1. It would be good to actually know how their pay and working conditions compare to others in China. We can make fun of stories like this and mock the low pay but if that’s the norm in that country there isn’t much do be done. If they ARE an Apple supplier then Apple needs to look into it.

  2. Well, the unions here, with help from OSHA and its predecessors, have done pretty well at cutting down injuries and deaths in industrial accidents….oh, wait, we like injuries and deaths in industrial accidents, because it means tooth-and-claw capitalism roams unfettered over the landscape.

    Grow up. The Chinese workers need protection, much as US workers did a century ago.

  3. If workers truly are dying from exposure to toxic chemicals, then they absolutely should do something about it. Work conditions in the U.S. were awful until fought back. I have no idea what the facts of the matter are, but Apple certainly needs to get to the bottom of it.

    That said, Apple will never build its products in the U.S. They would cost too much. Anyone willing to pay $600 for an iPhone with a 2 year service plan? Or more? Didn’t think so.

  4. Mark S. writes, “You see this is yet another reason Apple should make its products in North America. Unless SEIU or similar types get involved.”

    I warned about such risks to Apple’s supply chain months ago as a reason to diversify away from reliance on China, and was mocked for the suggestion. Apple of course can’t assume it can benefit low-cost suppliers without accepting some responsibility for the consequent abuses.

    I’d love to see Apple move manufacturing and assembly, at least of its computers, to the US, especially if they hopes to sell to the US Government. Small electronics are unlikely however. But lots of us would prefer Apple relocate to countries that at least devote more than lip service to human rights.

  5. Unions control the government? Please, you’ve spent too much time listening to right-wing radio. There’s been a 30-year campaign to destroy the labor movement in this country. The result? More jobs overseas, more people without health care, fewer people getting the pensions they were promised, and the 40-hour work week going the way of eight-track tapes.

    All the “standard” working conditions you all take for granted were fought for by labor unions, often at risk to life and limb. If some union leaders turned out to be corrupt, the percentage was certainly no higher than corrupt politicians, corrupt corporate officers or corrupt political pundits.

    The Chinese workers desperately need independent trade unions. And they’re beginning to fight for them. I wish them luck.

  6. China will never have human rights, let alone worker rights. China uses its nationalism to beat its people, and its capitalism to beat everyone else. In the end, China will rule the world, at the expense of 99.99999999 percent of the world. If you think things are bad now, wait a decade or two.

  7. Quote:
    “There’s nothing like the love and empathy from a conservative. It just makes one feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”

    Who’s to say the person you are referring is conservative? I’m a conservative and I think the problem in China is that the don’t care about their workers. I feel sad for them. They are going through the same thing America did a century ago. The difference is that we westerners are somewhat to blame so get off of your high horse. The Chinese people would probably be better off if they remained a peasant farming society. I’m sure they could perhaps be a happier society. Also remember that human life isn’t as valuable there to many as there are so many Chinese. Remember how they were killing their baby girls because they were only allowed 1 child.

  8. I agree to some extent with you. There was a time in the US when the unions were a good thing. I don’t think so now. They would be good in China now. They serve their purpose but they can go too far just like any other entity with power. I know this first hand. I was an independent electrical contractor who belonged to NO union. I bid and won a contract with the US Government and the local union was not happy to say the least. They were a pain in my ass the entire time I was on that job. They were talking to my employees behind my back trying to get them to join the union. Trying to get them to quit working for me, etc.. A bunch of dicks.

  9. @ @ Sir Gill Bates,

    For where I was aiming I believe my statement was accurate. But, I shouldn’t have implied a lack of compassion on the part of all conservatives. Of course it’s not true.

  10. The iPhone is great but it is made by slave labour in China which damages China and has destroyed/is destroying manufacturing in the West.

    In the end, as usual, only the very rich benefit.

    The average American, sadly, is unable to comprehend this and happily(?) goes off to work at Starbucks.

  11. Hmm, I my old G4 Cube cost with screen and everything around 4000$ (here in Switzerland), that was 2001, made in Ireland. Today, everything is much cheaper, but made in China. I have nothing against China, but the business there is so unfair, people so poor, all money goes to the party-member’s families, it is not capitalism more sort of a communism-monarchy. How poor the people are, you will not see in Shanghai or Bejing, go to see the rest of the country and it will hurt your heart. People there had it much better before the big china-boom started, ok no mobile phones for the rich but food for all. People in the west seem to forget, that this isn’t capitalism there, just a bunch of mafia-like criminals squeezing out any good of the people. Communism at its best, some are more equal. And we support with our production there a government that doesn’t like us and our ideas of freedom etc. Maybe the SovietUnion would still exist if we would have made big business with them. Personally, I would pay more for my mac made somewhere where humans are treated like humans. Just last week I bought shoes for the winter and paid 50% more for made in USA. Maybe you find this stupid, but I prefer to support a system with freedom of speech, justice, etc.

  12. Look around your home or office. Pretty much everything you see or own contain some slave labor unless they’re some local handycraft not bought in brand name stores. All this blame game is hilarious.

  13. I have often thought what would happen if the workers in one of the big work units would go postal, they would probably just burn the place down. There are usually 2000-3000 workers and if they decide to do damage it will be bad.

    I would go and protest for not being able to buy the same stuff that is shipped overseas. The huge malls in China have 80% clothing and accessories, 15% food and rest just cheap garbage.

  14. You go to a mall in US and can find all kinds of cool products, all made in China. You go to a mall in China and can find mostly clothing. It probably doesn’t help to protest because everything is based on supply and demand.

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