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Chinese workers send a letter to Steve Jobs, claim their health is compromised for profits

Posted: , by Alex I.

Chinese workers send a letter to Steve Jobs, claim their health is compromised for profits
A letter meant for Steve Jobs, and signed by five workers that claim to represent the employees at Wintek's Suzhou factory, which is producing displays for Apple, is appealing to the Cupertino-based company's CEO to ensure that Apple will take care of health issues experienced by the factory workers.

A part of their letter reads:

"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."

Wintek claims it used hexyl hydride, also called n-hexane, from May 2008 to August 2009, but stopped when it realized that the chemical is making its employees ill.

However, some of these employees are claiming that the amount of compensations they received for their health problems is insufficient; that they were pressured to quit their job after receiving compensations; and that they didn't receive any assurances that Wintek will cover their medical bills if these workers suffer more n-hexane-related problems.

Guo Ruiqiang, a worker at the Wintek plant, says:

"We are unable to cope with the medical costs of treatment in the future. We can only stay in the factory and see what happens. We just feel very helpless now."

According to him and other workers, n-hexane poisoning caused them "sweaty hands and feet, sudden numbness in hands, swelling and pain in the feet, tiredness and faintness." Lam Ching-wan, a chemical pathologist at the University of Hong Kong, says that when a person is exposed to this chemical on a daily basis, this may lead to "long-term and possibly irreversible nerve damage".

This is not the first time we hear of such reports. Only a month ago we told you that Chinese groups are expressing concerns about the working conditions in factories assembling Apple products, stating:

"[Apple] only care about the price and quality (of their products) and not the environmental and social responsibility issues. In some ways they drive the suppliers to cut corners to win their contracts."

Moreover, Foxconn, another manufacturer producing Apple devices, has been accused of mistreating its employees - reportedly, "up to 50% of Foxconn employees are abused either physically, verbally, or financially".

source: Reuters

33 Comments
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posted on 22 Feb 2011, 10:20 4

1. applesauce (unregistered)


Maybe if companies stopped outsourcing their stuff to third-world countries, we wouldn't have these issues.... oh wait, that'd mean they stop making billions of dollars in PROFIT. I say we all boycott Apple: it worked when it was done against Nike all those years ago...

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 11:43 3

3. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)


Dude, every company does the exact same thing. Boycott Apple? We'd have to do the same for Samsung, LG, Sony, Nike, Dell, HP...You wouldn't be able to buy anything.

I know you have some weird problem with Apple and that's cool, but it's old news dude.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 11:49 5

4. joe678 (unregistered)


would YOU want to work in a high radiation and frequency factory...standing in line to piece together electronics..piece by piece.. obviously NOT..China has ALWAYS had an issue with human rights..thats the downfall of communism..look it up!

posted on 23 Feb 2011, 00:08

28. messiah (Posts: 433; Member since: 19 Feb 2010)


The obvious free liberties and insatiable greed in the western consumerism is what fuels the communist economy. Essentially making those like Steve Jobs, the most deviant and socially naive, ecologically irresponsible, short sighted megalomaniac head CEO of communist shares.
But we the ever demanding buy with our greed and disregard to matters out of sight/ out of mind and pay Steve Jobs salary, continuing the cycle.
I cannot suggest a better course of action as just like you, I LOVE my annual new smart phone! Woot woot!

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 14:12 4

10. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Yes, just about every company does this, but should we just shrug our shoulders, buy their products and let them just get away with it? Not only have these companies taken our jobs and shipped them overseas. But the people who have our old jobs do more work with longer hours, at a tenth our the pay, no benefits, and from what this article is saying, at serious risk to their health! It's inhumane already, this is just evil!

I know we can't just boycott ever Fortune 500 Company randomly, but when there are allegations such as these, they should be investigated and corrected by the company. For all the profit they make, the very least we can do as consumers is to force these companies to be ethical in their treatment of direct and indirect or outsource employees. If that means boycotting the iP5, the Droid Bionic, Thunderbolt, Galaxy S or whatever their next cash cow is, I would do it!

We have a voice, but lately we use it more to fight about who has the best OS, myself included. If what this letter says is true and we do nothing about it, the conditions there will only get worse. But if we choose to stay home on those all important launch days, it will have a ripple effect that will go all the way up to Steve Jobs himself, and they will change their business practices. But it has to start somewhere. I'm with applesauce, let's boycott!

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 16:26 3

19. LionStone (Posts: 465; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


Sorry whateverman, was going for thumbs up but accidentally hit down. Yea, been boycotting i-buy products for years and my family is also anti-i.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 17:29 1

25. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Lol, No prob. Your heart was in the right place.

posted on 23 Feb 2011, 12:30 1

32. JustPlainDave (Posts: 45; Member since: 03 Feb 2011)


True dat, Whateverman. If we, as the ones who pay their paychecks, keep paying them for being inhumane, evil, corrupt, etc by purchasing their devices, then we are no better than they are. We are perpetuating the circumstances. Since most of us can't live without our cellphones, though, we must find another avenue. CL and ebay are selling phones all the time. Get 'em used and their well will dry up.

posted on 23 Feb 2011, 10:36 1

31. Gawain (Posts: 371; Member since: 15 Apr 2010)


All those other manufacturers you try to push blame to, have not established themselves with a "green" and ethical image. The difference is that Apple designs, and then sub-contracts out the manufacturing. Whereas, LG, Sony, Fujitsu, HTC, et al, all actually make the stuff they design too. HP and Dell sub out a lot of their manufacturing, but they do not position themselves with an image that "all is right in the world".

When there was outrage about little kids making Nike shoes in Vietnam, the groundswell against that American icon was huge, and it made a difference. When the near exact same thing happens to Apple...*crickets*

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 12:18 6

5. deezy (Posts: 46; Member since: 10 Feb 2011)


well said applesauce, outsourcing is the biggest cancer to our economy. I'd suggest taxing these corporations extra for their outsourcing (which we already do) but there's two holes to that solution:
1) they funnel the money through offshore accounts to save on taxes...sounds similar to laundering to me
2) these corporations have the politicians in their pocket. More money has been spent by lobbyists in Bush and Obama's terms than the 80s and 90s combined...
Only true way to get these corps to pay attention is with a boycott...which will never happen. We love these little devices and fashions, and we don't want to spend almost double to have it produced in the states...

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 14:03 3

9. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)


Outsourcing is diplomatic and practical. It depends how you look at it. It strengthens ties between nations in making business. It's also cost effective. It would be bad if Apple outsourced everything, which they've not. They have stores all over the US and provided work for a lot of Americans. Apple is a major contributor to the US economy. What's your contribution to the US?

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 15:25 6

12. deezy (Posts: 46; Member since: 10 Feb 2011)


To an extent I agree BUT when those companies move overseas NOT to strengthen ties between nations and instead do it to save a buck, I see it as a big problem. Take Dell Computers for example. Most of their domestic call centers have been shut down and you are stuck trying to understand Hindu English dialect if you call customer service. Not to come off as a xenophobe but at least keep the customer service domesticated so we can understand you. As far as my contribution to the US? Not much other than managing one of the largest potato farms (family owned) in the Northwest and owning a couple Indirect Retail centers for Verizon. The combination of the two employs over one hundred people. Oh, and I pay my taxes...something Apple, Google, and other corporations don't do...yet if I tried offshore sweeping of my funds, I'd definitely get busted for offshore evasion...

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 13:58 2

8. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)


Maybe if you should put up your own company to beat Apple, there won't be these type of problems, oh wait, you're a loser and you're not smart enough to put up your own company, so you just hate, hate, and hate.

Those Chinese people should have a choice to work for that company or not. They know thay Apple makes a lot of money. They just want a piece of it.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 16:06 4

17. Ultimatephonefreak (Posts: 20; Member since: 21 Jan 2011)


You're a loser as well.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 20:13 2

27. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


I don't mind outsourcing all the time, but when companies expect a free pass on workers rights, it's a big problem. Apple controls everything and everyone knows it, so expecting a free pass on this type of abuse that can kill people, is shameful. They know what is happening there. Hell, they chose the company in the first place and continued to do business with them, so it really is part of apple at this point.

At no other time does apple do everything just like other companies do. People expect better from apple and are being let down in a very big way.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 10:31 3

2. T (unregistered)


You realize China isn't third world right?

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 12:20 2

6. deezy (Posts: 46; Member since: 10 Feb 2011)


I'd consider them third world when comparing their industries and technology. Comparing economies, technically it is us who'd be more third world...

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 13:20 2

7. Kevin (unregistered)


Their country is considered 3rd world when it comes to industries and technology? lol
That's how you know you've been living in a box.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 15:45 3

14. deezy (Posts: 46; Member since: 10 Feb 2011)


In quantity, YES...sure they produce a large amount of bootlegs and counterfeits, steel, coal, livestock, etc...but what do they produce with quality? The toys have lead in them, the steel is sub par quality, axles and bolts aren't durable and they break on their cars and motorcycles, their clothes usually contain formaldehyde and traces of lead, their pet foods kill pets...
Quality isn't quantity...

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 14:58 2

11. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)


The way these workers are treated may be bad, and nobody will argue with that. But that's just how they do it there. IMHO we can't go and tell them that the way they do things is wrong in our opinion and they should stop it immediately. We can't first outsource our business to underdeveloped third world countries with the profit in mind, and then tell them to live our way of life and suggest they treat and pay their employees the same way we treat and pay ours here. That just doesn't make any sense! Another thing to think about, what would those employees do if they didn't work for bad Apple? I bet they are in a lot better position than their Chinese neighbors. Who do we want to boycott to raise their level of life?

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 15:28 5

13. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


If Apple said to these companies, everyone here has to have X, Y, and Z or we will no longer do business with you, do you really think that these companies will tell Apple to take his millions of dollars some place else? And it funny that we tell companies with oils how they should live, but the rest should be left alone to live and treat people how ever they want. We pick and choose what dictators we want to align with or bring down. But not all dictators hold a political office.

The easy thing to do is to turn a blind eye because it doesn't directly effect your life. But IMHO wrong is wrong, no matter where in the world it happens. And although one person may not be able to change what is happening there, millions of voices can. So if you don't think skipping the next gen iPhone is a good idea, by all means pick one up for yourself. But I Apple shouldn't outsource to companies that will not care for the employees that they have poisoned.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 15:46 3

15. deezy (Posts: 46; Member since: 10 Feb 2011)


nobody puts OPEC in the corner lol...

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 15:59 2

16. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


lol! VERY true, unfortunately.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 16:07 1

18. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)


Exactly my opinion, WE don't need to tell anybody out there how they should live. Just like we don't want anybody to tell us how they think we should live. Man, let them evolve at their own pace. Everybody went through it.

See, the problem is that Apple won't take their millions some place else. They took them to China BECAUSE it's very cheap to produce there, compared to the US. Are you trying to tell Apple to tell China to raise their prices? Is that your message to Apple by boycotting them?

And no, thank you, I won't buy another iPhone! LOL

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 17:02 1

22. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Raise their prices??? I'm talking about the inhumane treatment of workers! No one is telling anyone how to live. I don't mean to come off as a big bad tyrant, beating up on a small business like Apple. I can see they're the little guys just trying to survive here, but would it really hurt their image if they launched an investigation?

I thought pain and suffering would be something universally seen as a bad thing. Maybe you don't think so. But for those who think its bad, maybe we should do something yo help. Boycotting Nike forced them to rethink their approach to apartheid in South Africa, and if this is true I would be willing to do the same with Apple.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 17:21 1

23. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)


OK, ok, hurting people is bad. But it sounds like many people here complain that those workers don't have benefits, work for tenth of what people would get here and so on... This is what I meant by saying it's not our business and that's just how they live.
I do have business going with a few foreign companies. If one of them does a good job for me and for my American clients, but mistreats employees in some ways, let's say, I'm going to pack and move somewhere else. Now that would be a big deal even for my small company. And what would happen to those employees after that? They'll maybe be starving to death and selling their children. Wouldn't that be inhumane?
Just different thoughts, that's all.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 18:31

26. Whateverman (Posts: 3231; Member since: 17 May 2009)


And I think any company or CEO's who says they are stoping starvation or the selling of childeren by paying millions to a company, that pay its workers pennies is are a bunch of cowards! They aren't saving anyone out of the goodness of their hearts, they are doing it out of greed. There are a lot of companies and CEO that do some great humanitarian work all over the world, but any company that would use that defense isn't one of them. Companies have ever right to make a profit, but why does it have to be at the expense of their workers health?

posted on 23 Feb 2011, 03:08 1

30. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)


I'm not paying millions, thanks God :) And I don't pretend that I do business to save the employees from starvation out of the goodness of my heart. I'm just trying to do business, and they are trying too, the best they can. If I don't do it with them, it won't help employees there, that's what I think. Don't get me wrong, I don't keep doing it because I don't want the employees to be out of work. I'm doing it because it's what I do. But I couldn't tell another company how to run it out there. You think they are going to listen? Would I? Or would you? If people from a different culture and way of life told you you are wrong about what you do and believe in?
Those employees are not Steve's, by the way. They work for Wintek. If Apple finds another factory, those employees won't benefit. That's why I say that's just how things are there and maybe we can't change their way of life. They'll do in time.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 16:34 1

20. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)


-__- its sad they think there going to get help but they are not. china can shoot an employee with out hesitation and replace within seconds T_T communism BLOWS!!!

posted on 23 Feb 2011, 00:36 1

29. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


Wow, that statement is really stupid. Untrue, uninformed, and ungrammatical to boot.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 17:01 2

21. cheetah2k (Posts: 859; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)


Its all right guys. What goes around comes around... Jobs poor health is a classic example.

posted on 22 Feb 2011, 17:26 1

24. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)


There ya go!.. Chinese are avenged!

posted on 26 Jun 2011, 07:18

33. Donald (unregistered)


Our imperialistic arrogance is really funny: third-world countries :-)) ...

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