Hong Kong, 16 August 2014

On 13 August 2014, Apple announced the ban on benzene and n-hexane in the final assembly facilities of its iPhone and iPad products, a response to SACOM and other labour concern groups’ long-term campaign for a better working condition in Apple supply chain. Regrettably, it is a too-late commitment and there are still miles to achieve a healthy and safe environment to all workers in the Apple supply chain, when the ban is only effective in final assembly factories.

In Apple’s announcement, it claimed that investigations were conducted in 22 final assembly factories for the use of benzene and n-hexane. The investigative reports are undisclosed and Apple does not reveal the consequence of suppliers that failed to meet with safety standard. The health and safety of workers in the non-investigated factories and the downstream suppliers remain worrying. They could be still under the risk of benzene, n-hexane and many other unknown chemicals. SACOM urges Apple to deepen the ban to the entire supply chain and release a full list of chemical used in production. Apple should ensure all workers are well informed with chemical details and be equipped with related work safety knowledge and adequate protective gears, and support all necessary medical expenditure for workers who are harmed due to the production of its products.

In 2009, around 200 workers from United Win Suzhou were poisoned by n-hexane[1]. They were not informed the details of the toxin. Prolonged exposure to the substance cause workers suffered from nerve damage. Eventually, many of them did not get full compensation of the medical expenditure and were forced to quit the factory.

It is undoubtful that frontline workers are key stakeholder to Apple supply chain. The current top-down approach of Apple’s remedial programme could not guarantee the implementation of the harmful substance ban. SACOM stresses that sustainable industrial relations is crucial to stop labour right violation and labour conflict. SACOM has been disappointed by the broken promise of direct elected trade union by Apple’s long-term partner Foxconn[2]. And still we demand Apple, as the world’s most valuable and popular company, to act further to the improvement of the workplace by supporting the workers in its suppliers to set up fully representative trade union by democratic and direct election.

SACOM will continue our mission – to promote a safe, health and dignified working condition for all workers – by tireless monitoring Apple’s production behaviour.

— End of statement —
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