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Hong Kong group demands Apple response to poisonings

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Tue May 4, 2010

Apple ignoring Wintek issues?

Apple is still ignoring issues with a Suzhou, China factory involved in producing iPhones, claims a Hong Kong activist group, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). While a strike at Wintek subsidiary United Win is said to have got the factory workers an expected bonus, both Apple and Wintek are argued to be sidestepping several other concerns, most notably hexane poisoning. In this sense Apple is disregarding its own code of conduct for suppliers, SACOM charges.

Hexane is used in the cleaning of iPhone touchscreens, and workers with United Win have complained of serious medical problems or even death caused by chronic exposure. The Suzhou Municipal Administration of Work Safety is said to have revealed in press conference following the strike that 47 people showed symptoms. In its own talks with roughly 20 workers, SACOM claims to have learned that Wintek initially tried to hide the poisonings, for instance only arranging for medical check-ups with the Hospital for Occupational Diseases after some workers had already had their own hospital testing.

Wintek is also said to be acknowledging fewer poisonings than those claimed by its workers, as some people have allegedly had to recuperate at home or continue working based on the severity of any nerve damage. The company is even accused of opening emergency exits before plant inspection, hoping to skew the results of chemical testing by officials.

Issues outside of health include work schedules, which are said to run up to 70 hours per week on a normal basis without any days off, or the option to avoid overtime. The situation is said to be still worse with student workers, who are described as operating like regular employees but receiving only 500 RMB per month, with the rest of the money going to schools.

SACOM adds that workers appear to have no knowledge of the codes of conduct for any brand, including Apple, Nokia and others. Moreover, a culture of fear is said to exist in which workers are berated if they dare to complain.

Wintek is believed to be one party involved in the manufacturing of the next iPhone.

by MacNN Staff



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