11 January 2013, Hong Kong

It was no new stories that Apple Inc. consistently neglect occupational safety and health (OSH) conditions at its suppliers. There were numerous reports about workers suffering from chemical poisoning and serious injuries caused by dust explosion cases at Apple factories. SACOM have recently learnt that a group of workers at an Apple supplier, Sunrex Computer (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd, were subjected to collective poisoning inside factory. We regret that Apple repetitively disregard workers’ lives.

In September 2012, 169 workers from the mold department of the Sunrex Computer, a keyboard manufacturer for brands like Apple and Hewlett-Packard, were found suffering from water poisoning. The incident began in May 2012 when the company reconfigured the pipelines. The drinking-water machine was wrongly connected to the sewage drainage system of the spray-painting department, resulting in water contamination for 3 months. A large number of workers fell ill and found their immunity deteriorates over the period. Many of them constantly feel dizzy, suffer from fatigue and abdominal pain.

After the workers had detected the faulty pipe connection, they sent the drinking-water sample for laboratory testing and discovered over 40 types of chemicals. The workers’ medical examination reports also reflected a majority of them having liver function disorder. Only until October 23, the company arranged 15 workers to enter the Fifth People’s Hospital of Suzhou for medical treatment. Meanwhile, about 40 workers received outpatient care. Yet, the hospital refused to issue sick leave certificate for the workers who visited the outpatient clinic. Sunrex Computer however pressured the physically unwell workers to work.

By the end of December, the 15 workers who have been hospitalised since October had only received their full-paid salary up to October and were unpaid since then. Sunrex Computer coerced the hospitalised workers for dismissing them and forced them to sign an agreement accepting a “nutrition allowance” of CNY 7500 (USD 1206) and a examination fee at CNY 1500 (USD 241).

As the workers are suffering from impaired liver function, their health conditions fluctuate and hence they demand for continued treatment. However, the company refuses to recognize the water poisoning as occupational disease and thus defies their legal responsibilities. SACOM condemn electronic brands like Apple for not monitoring their suppliers to ensure a safe and hygienic working environment. Apple deny workers’ right to proper medical treatment and compensation is absolutely unacceptable.

SACOM sternly request the corporate brands, including Apple, to respond to the following requests from the workers:

1. Allow seriously ill workers to be hospitalised and receive proper medical treatment;

2. Stop enforcing workers to sign the unfair agreement;

3. Pay full salary to workers during the medical period;

4. Arrange workers to undergo diagnosis and identification of occupational disease process;

5. Allow workers to seek medical treatment in other cities/ provinces;

6. Deliver severance payment for workers in line with the legal standards; and

7. Address the issue of water poisoning in due diligence.

Moreover, we demand the corporate brands to apologise for their failures in monitoring their suppliers and also to make apology to the workers.