Chinese workers appeal to Apple CEO Steve Jobs over health worries

“Chinese workers at a factory making touch screens on contract for Apple have urged the U.S. company to help address their grievances over a chemical poisoning they said could still harm their health,” Royston Chan reports for Reuters.

Wintek, the Taiwanese company that owns the factory in east China’s Suzhou industrial park, has said it used hexyl hydride, also called n-hexane, from May 2008 to August 2009, but stopped after discovering it was making workers ill,” Chan reports. “‘This is a killer, a killer that strikes invisibly,’ said a Chinese-language copy of the letter meant for Apple CEO Steve Jobs that workers showed Reuters. An English version had been sent to Apple.”

Chan reports, “The poisonings were mentioned in a recent report from Apple,

which sources many of its strong-selling iPhones, iPads and other devices to contract manufacturers in China. That report said 137 workers had been hospitalised because of poisoning but had all recovered, a conclusion also offered by Wintek. Apple declined to comment on the workers’ letter and referred a reporter back to its supplier report.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Chinese workers allegedly poisoned while making Apple iPhones – October 26, 2010

25 Comments

  1. Dear Steve,

    Hack, hack, I’m dying and may have maybe a thousand days left. Hack, hack, it’s this hacking cough that I have that doesn’t seem to go away even after drinking medication prescribed by the company doctor.

    Hack, hack, I’ve been standing in a production line all day including Sundays to assemble the new iPad 2 which my bosses say Apple projects will sell 30 million units a year. 

    Hack, hack, they’re saying that if I take a day off work on Sunday that I would have my wages docked as it means they’d have to employ two persons to do the job of one as they’re not as adept as me putting together the LiquidMetal parts of the new iPad.

    In conclusion, Steve, if there’s any way you can tell my employers not to use harmful chemicals in the making of the iPad that would not only save lives but burnish Apple’s image as a green technology company.

    Hackingly yours,

    ERIC T MOLE
    Previously of Googleplex, Mountain View, California now residing in Shenzhen, China.

  2. I’m willing to pay an extra $10 or $20 for my next iPad to help with worker conditions in China. That would be a massive amount of cash based on Apple’s sales projections.

    What says everyone else?

  3. Wintek is the number 2 manufacturer of small touch screens. They sell these parts to companies all over the world. I don`t want to take anything away from these poor people`s plight but in reality Apple is only 1 of MANY customers. We know its a big target but I sure hope they sent a copy of this letter to all the other Wintek customers (doubt it)

    http://www.wintek.com.tw/

    1. It only makes sense, because Apple is likely their largest customer. Let’s face it, Apple is the biggest tech company in the world, and any negative tech news of this caliber is likely to be targeted at them for this reason: any change they incorporate will be incorporated by all.

    1. Your heart’s in the right place, but all studies have shown US consumers will not pay more for US production. If Walmart tries to sell US-made goods for $1 more than you can buy a comparable product made overseas at Target, the sales will disappear. Sad but true. Americans won’t pay more for US-made product.

      1. This is sad, but true. You can’t even hardly find American made products in stores any more.

        Remember not so long ago when Walmart was touting all their Made in the USA stuff? You don’t hear so much about that any longer.

      2. I too agree. I’ve been one of those “I don’t care who makes it, I want the best quality for the cheapest price anywhere” kind of consumers.

        But it’s killing America’s GNP and our economy and our currency and something has to change.

        I’d rather the government not stick their nose into this issue, but the pride of “Made in the USA” needs to be revived sooner than later.

        1. It’s not about pride, it’s about reality. As more and more U.S. companies manufacture their goods overseas, more and more American workers lose their jobs, which means that fewer and fewer consumers can afford to buy the products made overseas by American companies. This is a totally non-sustainable strategy driven by greed and stupidity; but everybody already knows this, and nobody does anything about it. Heaven forbid that we should tear ourselves away from our video screens long enough to take to the streets in protest of the deplorable state of the American government/economy.

          Back in the day, millions of people (myself included) did take to the streets for the march on Washington to protest the Vietnam War. I don’t see that spirit stirring today, not to any significant degree. And if the young people of this country don’t wake up and smell the coffee pretty damn soon, there won’t be much of a world for them to inherit.

      3. I believe it’s a pendulum swing.
        I keep hearing people gripe and moan about the quality, or lack thereof, of nearly anything made overseas and the lament of, “I sure wish it was made here again.”
        I think it will come back. Especially with the uncertainty of world governments right now combined with the need of jobs right here at home.

    2. You’d have to ban unions first. No one in their right mind would invest that kind of money in factory to have the unions ruin the business models by unsustainable number of breaks, benefits, and retirement packages. Like the automobile companies. I’d rather see everything made in the US too but unions have made that impossible. Look what their doing with teachers in Wisconsin and Indiana. Pathetic.

  4. China has tens of billions of American dollars just sitting around gathering dust. Let China regulate Chinese industry and let China stop the poisoning of Chinese workers.

    That’s what a government is for.

  5. As important a safety issue that this was, I believe that Wintek is fully responsible. Wintek needs to ensure that long-term followup care is guaranteed for the affected workers. The workers shouldn’t be appealing to Apple, but to the Chinese gov’t for improved worker safety. This is an OSHA-type issue, that the gov’t needs to get in charge of.

  6. This is the downside of Tim Cook’s “supply chain management” initiatives. Those workers are not only distant from Apple management oversight (as might have been the case if these were Apple’s own plants), but only indirectly subject to Apple’s directives. It’s what happens when you design everything to your own exacting standards, but leave the actual manufacturing to others.

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