FutureFive NZ - Chinese workers suing iPhone LCD supplier

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Chinese workers suing iPhone LCD supplier

Forty-four workers plan to sue Apple supplier Wintek after being poisoned by a chemical used to clean the LCD screens used in iPhones and other Apple products. 

Apple’s suppliers have been in the spotlight for questionable worker safety policies earlier this year, and in a new blow, 44 workers of Wintek, the company that makes components for the iPhone and iPad, are planning to sue the company. The workers allege that the chemical that was used to clean LCD screens poisoned them. 

The chemical is n-hexane and was used because it dries faster than alcohol, though the company has since switched back to alcohol-based cleaner. Global intelligence agency Stratfor found that 62 Wintek workers have been hospitalised for n-hexane poisoning since August 2009. The chemical can cause damage to the peripheral nervous system and spinal cord. 

Apple responded to concerns about its supplier’s worker safety policies earlier this year by releasing a supplier responsibility report. In its report, Apple said it audited 102 facilities in 2009, in contrast to the 39 it audited in 2007. 

Apple’s supplier responsibility report states, “Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility wherever our products are made.” 

This news comes after Apple supplier Foxconn was recently put in a questionable light after a number of employee suicides, one specifically related to a lost iPhone prototype.

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