Apple Inc admits fault in scandal
Updated: 2011-02-18 13:10
While Apple is enjoying hot worldwide sales of its fashion electronics, its health and environmental responsibilities have come under fire in China.
Poisoned workers at one of Apple's supplier factories on the Chinese mainland have demanded a formal written apology from the Mac maker despite its recent acknowledgment of violations in its supply base. The workers also said that some of them have been asked to leave their jobs.
The California-based maker of iPods, iPhones and iPads acknowledged for the first time in the Apple Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report on Tuesday that 137 workers at the Suzhou facility of Wintek, one of Apple's touch screen suppliers, had suffered adverse health effects following exposure to n-hexane, a chemical in cleaning agents used in some manufacturing processes.
It said the company considered this series of incidents to be "a core violation for worker endangerment" and required the factory to stop using the chemical while it improved its ventilation system.
The company also said it required Wintek to work with a consultant to improve its environmental health and safety processes and management systems, and it is monitoring the implementation of these corrective actions and preventive measures. A complete re-audit of the facility will be conducted in 2011, it said.
The report said that all 137 affected workers had been treated successfully at Wintek's expense, and that most of them had returned to work at the same factory.
But Jia Jingchuan, a 27-year-old worker at the Suzhou factory, said the Apple acknowledgment meant nothing to victims like him and that their rights continued to be under threat.
"I got a call last week from the company asking me to leave. They promised to give me 140,000 yuan ($21,253) in compensation for my departure, but only on condition that I sign an exemption agreement, which means the company would not take any responsibility if my health worsened in the future," he said.
He added that as far as he knew at least eight victims had already left.
He also said that he still felt numbness in his legs and hands nearly eight months after being discharged from the hospital, and that he always felt tired after "very little physical exertion".
Wintek Suzhou factory's executives could not be reached on Thursday.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.
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