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Apple neglecting workers' health: Chinese groups

Last updated on: January 21, 2011 08:50 IST

Apple neglecting workers' health: Chinese groups

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Dozens of environmental groups in China have accused Apple Inc for neglecting safety standards, indulging in labour abuses and polluting the environment as a result of which about 200 workers fell sick.

The result of this corporate malfeasance is that at least 200 manufacturing workers have become sick among Apple's subcontractors in eastern China, reports in the Chinese official media said.

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Image: Workers are seen inside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in Guangdong.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters.
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Most of the Apple products and other top multinational electronic companies like Dell and Sony are made in China by sub-contractors in massive factories employing lakhs of Chinese workers.

Around 36 NGOs led by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Friends of Nature, have dubbed Apple a "sweatshop brand," as "the company has based its mass production on its subcontractors, without proper protections in the workplace," a statement said.

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Image: Protesters burn pieces of paper in the shape of iPhones manufactured by Foxconn.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters.
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Ma Jun, director of the IPE, told the Global Times that they gathered statements from factory workers who said they were manufacturing components for Apple products, including at Lianjian Technology Co in Suzhou.

"We started to write to Apple in April about pollution problems by its sub-contractors, but have barely received a response. Until recently, Apple asked us to provide evidence to prove Lianjian is one of Apple's suppliers," Ma said, criticising the MNC for being so secretive about its list of suppliers.

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Image: Workers in China.
Photographs: Reuters.
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An e-mail to Apple China spokeswoman Carolyn Wu seeking comments received a response that the questions had been forwarded to a relevant department. Taiwan-headquartered Lianjian Technology, one of the alleged subcontractors, is a major contributor to the world's production of small and medium-sized flat screens, the newspaper said.

The company was accused of neglecting workers' health by using N-Hexane to clean touch screens from Apple products instead of using ethyl alcohol.

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Image: Workers walk on a street outside factory buildings at Foxconn in the township of Longhua.
Photographs: Reuters.
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The toxic cleaning material works more efficiently than ethyl alcohol, but it can penetrate human skin and the respiratory system and impede movement by damaging the nervous system.

The allegations by the Chinese groups coinciding with the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to US may come in handy for the Chinese officials to question the human rights record of American companies to deflect the criticism about China's poor right record, analysts say.


Image: Workers are seen inside a Foxconn factory.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters.
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