Chinese factory workers who have been making touchscreens for Apple’s iPhone and iPad products have asked for help over a case of chemical poisoning.
The workers, employed by Wintek, a Taiwanese owner of a factory in the Suzhou industrial park in Eastern China have been using n-hexane to clean touchscreens between May 2008 and August 2009.
This substance evaporates faster than alcohol and was used to speed up the production of touchscreens. Unfortunately for the workers they had to stop using it when it was found to be making the workers ill. They were feeling numb in the hands, and also had feet swelling and were fainting.
Apple has admitted the chemical poisoning for the first time in a recent annual report on environment and working conditions, and it revealed that 137 workers were hospitalised by n-hexane poisoning.
The workers said in a letter “This is a killer, a killer that strikes invisibly, From when hexyl hydride was used, monthly profits at Apple and Wintek have gone up by tens of millions every month, the accumulated outcome of workers’ lives and health.”
An english version of this letter was sent to Steve Jobs, who is currently absent due to health concerns. Workers want Apple to step in and use their considerable power to force Wintek to adequately compensate the affected workers. Wintek apparently haven’t stepped up and handled the case properly and according to reports they are even asking workers seeking compensation to give up their jobs.
Jia Jingchuan, a 27 year old production technician who feel ill after using n-hexane at Wintek spoke to the UK’s Guardian newspaper. He said “I hope Apple can respect our labour and our dignity. I hope they can stand up and apologise to us.”
KitGuru says: Apple have yet to make a statement on the matter, but we would assume they will, as this high profile case will highlight their willingness to act.