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1 Jan 2011

Wintek workers' letters to Apple - Feb 2011

On 1 Jan 2011 workers at a Wintek factory in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China (known in Chinese as "Lian Jian" factory) wrote a letter to Apple's CEO Steve Jobs appealing for help in addressing their grievances over poisoning at the factory.  The poisonings happened, they claim, in the production line for Apple's i-Phone.  

The workers state that, "...When the company started to use n-Hexane cleaning products who of us knew that it is prohibited for use by the national standard?  We were not given any proper personal protective equipment to use, the ventilation was not good and the air had a concentration of n-Hexane, five times over the national standard..."  On 27 Jan 2011 the workers sent a second letter to Steve Jobs, claiming that he is "being evasive".  "You do not dare to face up to the facts of what’s happened.  We have not seen a “yes” or a “no” in your answer, so are you really a top IT brand that is representative of the world’s most advanced technology companies?  You don’t even have the courage to admit what has happened."

Below are the full letters from the Wintek workers to Apple, as well as links to news reports about the letters:

1 Jan 2011 letter from Wintek (Lian Jian) workers to Apple [DOC]

27 Jan 2011 letter from Wintek (Lian Jian) workers to Apple [DOC]

"Poisoned workers in Apple plea, Shanghai Daily", Shanghai Daily, 23 Feb 2011

"Workers Sickened at Apple Supplier in China", David Barboza, New York Times, 22 Feb 2011 (contains comments by Apple and Wintek)

Apple also addressed these issues in its Supplier Sustainability Report, Feb 2011


In early 2010, Chinese and Western media began reporting that workers at United Win, a subsidiary of Wintek in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, were protesting over the use of n-Hexane, a poisonous chemical that workers were forced to use without protective uniforms to clean touch screens for Apple i-Phones. The poison left them sickened and unable to work, and in some cases hospitalized for extended periods of time.  Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) issued two reports on the poisonings in May 2010 [PDF] and Oct 2010 [PDF]. In the October report they name two other Apple suppliers in Suzhou, Yunheng and Surtec, as companies where the poisionings also occured.  Comments from Wintek, Yunheng, Surtec, and Apple were reported in the following news reports:

  - "Apple news: Workers' rights the focus again", Kathleen E. McLaughlin, Global Post,  26 Jan 2010 
  - "Workers at Chinese mobile phone supplier poisoned by cleaning chemical", Tania Branigan, Guardian,  22 Feb 2010
  - "Chinese workers link sickness to n-hexane and Apple iPhone screens", Tania Branigan, Guardian, 07 May 2010
  - "Toxic chemicals: Everyone at risk,"  Stephen Frost, CSR Asia 26 May 2010