Making touchscreens for iPhone is not easy. Reuters reports that a group of Wintek employees that were poisoned during the production of Apple touchscreens by the N-Hexane cleaners that their company used are making a direct appeal to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The workers sent a letter to Jobs and they hope that Apple will take concern on the health of the workers and look ‘further’ into the slate of chemical poisonings at the plant which they said could still hurt their health badly.
Basically, the workers are asking Apple for an apology, and the coverage for their medical expenses. They even argued that Wintek has not given enough compensation to sick workers, and for those workers who agreed to have their medical bills paid for by Wintek also had to agree to have their work contracts terminated and will not be able to hold Apple or Wintek responsible for any possible future medical expenses that may arise. So, workers are not happy with the awful treatment they are getting while monthly profits at Apple and Wintek have gone up by tens of millions every month, ever since hexyl hydride was used.
The companies’ response? Wintek said it had used the chemical, which evaporates faster than alcohol, to speed up production of touch screens for Apple products. The use of hexyl hydride has since stopped at Wintek’s facilities. At the other side, Apple noted that Wintek had used the chemical in its yearly Supplier Responsibility Progress Report and the company had discontinued its use. What’s more, Apple confirmed that the poisoning happened due to faulty ventilation equipment and had ensured that the machinery was fixed and workers fully cured before work at the plant continued. However, Apple declined to comment on the workers’ letter and referred a reporter back to its supplier report.
Just in case you are not sure what’s the danger of using hexyl hydride, this chemical causes “sweaty hands and feet, sudden numbness in hands, swelling and pain in the feet, tiredness and faintness.” Daily exposure, such as what the workers faced, has long-term and possibly irreversible nerve damage.
There are more news flying around the Chinese web saying that the chemical caused paralysis in at least 101 workers at factory in Suzhou owned by Wintek, and there are rumors saying that workers are being forced to leave and receiving pay-offs as long as they forfeit their rights. Here’s something that catches our attention. A total of 58 workers resigned and agreed to have their contracts terminated and received pay-offs ranging from 70,000-140,000 Yuan ($10,600-$21,300), while others have chosen to stay in work for fear of losing our on medical entitlement in the future. And here’s what a worker says
“I cannot quit my job for my situation, because I don’t know what will happen in the future,”
A worker named Guo said, stating that if he were to quit work and become sick again in the future he wouldn’t have the money to pay for his own medical treatment. This sounds pathetic!
To conclude, we think Wintek should not take the risk to harm the workers’ health while speeding up the production of Apple touchscreens. Apple should set regulations for the Chinese factories to follow, so workers could have the rights to work in a better environment. Oh, one more thing, in an open letter published in a local Chinese newspaper, the Wintek workers referred to hexyl hydride as “a killer that strikes invisibly.”
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