Furious workers protest iPhone touchscreen supplier

By on January 18, 2010, 5:38 PM
Over 2,000 employees of a Wintek factory in Suzhou, China went on strike last Friday, violently protesting unfair pay and hazardous working conditions. Workers complained that the company planned to cancel a year-end bonus, and even worse, that people are dying from long-term exposure to a toxicant used in the factory.

According to one employee, at least four workers have died from overexposure to hexane, a chemical used to clean touchscreen panels. China Daily notes that hexane is known to cause extensive peripheral nervous system failure in humans, with symptoms like tingling and cramps in the arms and legs, general muscular weakness, muscular atrophy, as well as a loss of coordination and vision.

In response, the company said it would distribute a bonus before the Chinese Spring Festival, while local authorities said no deaths have been reported, and 47 people who showed symptoms of hexane poisoning have received treatment. Employees remain discontent with the government's action and seek further investigation.




User Comments: 21

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red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Over 2,000 employees of a Wintek factory in Suzhou, China went on strike last Friday, violently protesting unfair pay and hazardous working conditions. Workers complained that the company planned to cancel a year-end bonus, and even worse, that people are dying from long-term exposure to a toxicant used in the factory.

Read the whole story

....and were never heard from again.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Workers complained that ... people are dying from long-term exposure to a toxicant used in the factory. According to one employee, at least four workers have died from overexposure to hexane.

In response, the company said it would distribute a bonus before the Chinese Spring Festival, while local authorities said no deaths have been reported.

Heh! The old pay 'em to be quiet trick. That sounds like a modern solution. I don't see anything contradictory or flawed with in this logic.

treeski treeski said:

As much as the company should be blamed for the obvious inhuman problems, the Chinese government should also be blamed for not regulating/enforcing safe work environments.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

"general muscular weakness, muscular atrophy, as well as a loss of coordination and vision."

I didn't know the Dallas Cowboys worked the off-season in China.

tonylukac said:

You would think that for the high cost of apple products, they would at least make them in the usa.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

You would think that for the high cost of apple products, they would at least make them in the usa.

They would do, but Steve Jobs found out it was too expensive to bring slave labour into the U.S. in shipping containers to make the relocation financially beneficial.

Timonius Timonius said:

Hmmm...waiting for the 'How much the iPhone REALLY costs' article.

Guest said:

Just think about this before you buy your next phone...

Timonius Timonius said:

But then again to be somewhat fair to Apple, how many products do we buy that are absolutely 100% (right down to the individual parts) from our own country (wherever we may live)?

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

Timonius said:

Hmmm...waiting for the 'How much the iPhone REALLY costs' article.

Lol, i can already imagine... >_>

Price of Casing: X human Lives

Price of Touch Screen: 4 Human Lives

Number of underpaid workers: X people

The ability to show off your new iphone/ ipod to your friends: Priceless

heh... But then again, who knows whether Sony/ Samsung or any other company for that matter already kept their internal secrets hush hush, and this managed to leak.

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

Timonius said:

Hmmm...waiting for the 'How much the iPhone REALLY costs' article.

Lol, i can already imagine... >_>

Price of Casing: X human Lives

Price of Touch Screen: 4 Human Lives

Number of underpaid workers: X people

The ability to show off your new iphone/ ipod to your friends: Priceless

heh... But then again, who knows whether Sony/ Samsung or any other company for that matter already kept their internal secrets hush hush, and this managed to leak.

Guest said:

Bonuses will now be paid*.

*To all workers who survive being executed for "defaming the motherland"

Guest said:

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant and biased people are when it comes to any issue around China.

Before you throw around words like slave labor and execution, just remember that the manufacturer is Taiwanese (oh right you don't know what's the difference between Taiwan and China, Asians are all the same to you), and that you're reading the story which is reported by China Daily, the government-run news agency. They weren't shy in telling you there was a voilent protest, even had a comment where a lawyer said negative things about the lack of communication channels for people to reach the government. And yet all these posts said what they wanted to say, making up things and blaming everything on the Chinese government, with no regard for the truth.

And for those waving nationalistic flags around having all products made in US - it defies the very principle of capitalism, which is survival of the fittest based on competition. If everything were made in US, you'd be paying $1000 for a phone, $100 for a pair of jeans, $500 for a CD player...is that what you really want? Just use your brain before you believe in unions' brain wash and smudging campaign.

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

Lol... relax guy, i don't think any of us came here with intention to flame... you're jumping the gun pretty quick there, plus you're putting the assumption in that all of us are non-asian, and i can assure you that that is not the case....

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Timonius said:

But then again to be somewhat fair to Apple, how many products do we buy that are absolutely 100% (right down to the individual parts) from our own country (wherever we may live)?

I don't know the details, but my guess is the iphone is 100% non US. The big "Designed in California" sticker is a big tip off to that. The only reason it isn't designed in China is that they don't trust the Chinese to protect their corporate secrecy (with good reason).

Guest said:

The reason why is labor costs in the USA are higher, Apple would have to pass on it the costs down to the consumers in the form of higher prices. In this economic climate, that would be disastrous.

"Made in China" is actually made with slave labor on all products being made from there. Would any of you survive on less than $15/ day? It is unethical yes but to big companies such as Apple. It's the route to save costs.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Talk About Having Your Play Book Stolen, Passwords Too......

"general muscular weakness, muscular atrophy, as well as a loss of coordination and vision."

I didn't know the Dallas Cowboys worked the off-season in China.

They don't. It's our own Philadelphia "Eag-Holes". Granted, they may have taken Jessica Simpson along for a mascot. Lord knows, they killed and ate the dog.

Has anybody downloaded her screen saver recently.....?

Guest said:

Tell me you are not a union worker...

Surviving on $15 / day is unfortunate, but remember bare essentials can be very cheap in China, so that's what millions of people do in China, India, Philippines, ...and many other developing nations where GDP per capita is measured in $1,000 units not $10,000 units. It has nothing to do with slave labor. If you truly cared about their living standards, give them the opportunity to keep these jobs by buying more things made there. If you don't, that's ok but please stop hiding behind that veil of hypocrisy.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Tell me you are not a union worker....

Nope, I'm a chef -I negotiate my employment contract.

Surviving on $15 / day is unfortunate.

Really?

but remember bare essentials can be very cheap in China .

So I've heard. 7.62x39 carries a huge discount if bought in boxes of 30

so that's what millions of people do in China, India, Philippines, ...and many other developing nations where GDP per capita is measured in $1,000 units not $10,000 units. It has nothing to do with slave labor..

True. If it were slave labor they would be tied to one sweatshop for life, whereas these people have the freedom to choose whatever sweatshop they like.

If you truly cared about their living standards, give them the opportunity to keep these jobs by buying more things made there.

...And condoning the practice that keeps these people indentured to an socio-political model that is at complete odds with their cultural and economic roots.

If you don't, that's ok but please stop hiding behind that veil of hypocrisy.

Buy sweatshop goods from counties that care so little for their citizens that profit becomes more important than the lives of the prople that provide that profit. Why? If you don't buy the goods, the people suffer because their government can't be bothered with welfare reform.

@captaincranky

My condolences. I wouldn't wish being an Iggles fan on anyone......Jessica Simpson, Mike Vick....a (death)match made in heaven?

Who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof...

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Then the Neighborhood Sociopath Buzzed In......

Personally I believe that if you're going to sit around and breed 3 billion copies of anything, then you have to accept a certain amount of them must be deemed, "expendable".

If that assessment doesn't sit too well, Then might I suggest we all walk down to the nearest Walmart and demand that they stock their shelves with only American made goods. Then after Walmart hands you your next bill, we can all go back to protest the "price gouging".

I don't care what I complain about, I simply revel in the act of complaining.

We need more prisons, you can't build that prison here next to me! Do you ever stop and listen to yourselves?

Maybe we should sing;

"How many Chinese people have died to make a high end computer video card", "The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind".

"All together now, just mouth the words, dah, da, da, dah dah, dah".

I love irony, how many people do you think are running their mouths on a cell phone, to say how horrified they are to hear about the workers plight in a cell phone factory. And your entire computer was made in Hackensack NJ you say?

@captaincranky

Who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof...

You watch it buster, our cheerleaders resemble that remark.

And our quarterback can throw a ball harder into the dirt than your quarterback, so there!

(Actually I think the league fined him for not replacing the divots).

Guest said:

teacher may i go out??

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