Poison Apple? N-hexane poisoning troubles Apple supplier in China

11:15, February 23, 2010      

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On February 21, 2010 China's state media CCTV reported that Apple's supplier Jiangsu United Win Technology Limited (Wintek) illegally uses n-hexane solvent instead of alcohol to wipe mobile phones, causing symptoms of poisoning among staff. It is known that the toxicity of n-hexane may even be fatal.

Wintek Suzhou, an affiliate of Wintek Corporation and a major supplier of components for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, has been exposed by CCTV over hazardous work conditions and disputes about employee welfare.

According to Focus, a program broadcast by CCTV, employees at a Wintek factory in Suzhou, Jiangsu province went on strike in mid-January 2010 and this sparked the exposure of n-hexane poisoning cases at the factory. Zhang Lisheng, the deputy general manager of Wintek China, is reported as saying that the striking employees were mainly protesting the company's cancellation of year-end bonus, and the company denied that the employees' protest was to do with n-hexane poisoning. However Lu Zhenwei, the director of Suzhou Industrial Park Safety Production Management Bureau admitted that some employees at the company were indeed affected by n-hexane poisoning.

The CCTV report said that as of August 2009, 49 employees at Wintek had showed symptoms of n-hexane poisoning and were receiving treatment at a Suzhou hospital. The report said that the company illegally used n-hexane in place of alcohol for cleaning mobile phone screens, and this was the main cause of the n-hexane poisoning. The report said that the company has been asked to stop using this chemical and has been punished, with some of its management being dismissed.

Elsewhere, reports show that in May 2009 the Taiwan Labor Organization went to protest at Apple's office in Taiwan, accusing Wintek Corporation, the parent company of Wintek for ignoring worker's rights, offering bad working conditions, and cutting staff illegally.

By People's Daily Online
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