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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

Background

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 

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Related stories and components

Article
23 February 2011

Poisoned workers in Apple plea

Author: Shanghai Daily [China]

...workers at a factory making touchscreens for Apple have urged the...company to help address their grievances over chemical poisoning...Wintek...has said it used hexyl hydride... but stopped after discovering it was making workers ill..."From when...

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Article
7 May 2010

Chinese workers link sickness to n-hexane and Apple iPhone screens

Author: Tania Branigan, Guardian [UK]

[S]cores of young workers in the city of Suzhou...were poisoned by the chemical n-hexane, which they say was used to clean Apple components…An occupational diseases hospital which saw several victims diagnosed the problem and Wintek stopped using the...

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Article
22 February 2010

Workers at Chinese mobile phone supplier poisoned by cleaning chemical

Author: Tania Branigan, Guardian [UK]

Workers at a Chinese factory [Wintek] that makes parts for mobile phone companies…have been in hospital for months after being poisoned by a chemical used in production…The owner of the plant says it stopped using the screen-cleaner n-hexane…last year...

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Article
26 January 2010

Apple news: Workers' rights the focus again [China]

Author: Kathleen E. McLaughlin, Global Post

Workers at a Chinese factory believed to make electronic components for tech giants like Apple and Nokia are back on the job after a violent strike to protest what they believe was deadly on-the-job exposure to toxic chemicals...Protesters said they...

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