Workers Poisoned by Chemical at Apple Supplier in China

Apple recently released a 2011 Supplier Responsibility Report which offered details on labor abuses that had been revealed at their suppliers’ factories in China, including poisoning by n-hexane. The New York Times reports that Apple has so far not lived up to its promises to improve conditions:

Apple, describing it as a “core violation” of worker safety, said that it had ordered the contractor to stop using the chemical and to improve safety conditions at the plant. Apple also said that it would monitor the medical conditions of those workers.

But in interviews last weekend, nearly a dozen employees who say they were harmed by the chemical said they had never heard from anyone at Apple.

Instead, they said the contractor — a Taiwanese-owned company called Wintek — had pressed them and many other affected workers to resign and accept cash settlements that would absolve the factory of future liability, charges the company denied.

“We hope Apple will heed to its corporate social responsibility,” said Jia Jingchuan, 27. He said exposure at the Wintek plant to the chemical, known as n-hexane, had left him with nerve damage and made him so hypersensitive to cold that he now must wear down-insulated clothing even indoors. “Usually someone my age doesn’t wear this type of pants,” he said raising his voice. “Only 50- or 60-year-old men wear something like this.”