While we can’t say Apple is rotten to the core, it looks like they could use a couple lessons in how to manage their factories better. In the biggest scandal since that Foxconn employee committed suicide, over 2,000 employees at one of the company’s industrial parks in Suzhou went on strike over unfair pay and safety conditions. And like any good strike, it involved turning over cars, destroying factory property, and throwing rocks aplenty.
The plant, owned by Wintek, who makes touchscreens for Apple, was reportedly planning not to give a year-end bonus to its workers for Spring Festival. The protest was also sparked by at least four deaths from Hexane poisoning, a chemical used to clean touchscreens that causes the nervous system to fail. Previously, the factory had denied any health risks, lying about the true cause of the deaths, which further infuriated the workers.
From China Daily:
He also said one of his colleagues, Li Liang, was one of the four victims, but the company told them Li had died of congenital heart disease.
“That was impossible because we never heard him having such a disease. It must have to do with the toxicant because there was a strong smell at the factory,” he said.
Jiao Tan, Li’s college roommate, also told China Daily that “Li was very healthy and never had any heart problem before.”
While the factory has both promised a bonus and treated 47 workers for overexposure to hexane, workers are unsatisfied and say they will continue to sue for justice. The news isn’t surprising: after the Foxconn incident last year, a survey of Apple’s factories found that 45 out of 83 plants refused to pay overtime to their workers, while a fifth of surveyed factories failed to meet safety regulations.
Still, it’s bad press for Steve Jobs and Co.: besides just looking bad, the strike could interfere with the supply of iPhones and iTouchs. And with Apple’s new product, dubbed the “iTablet” for its massive touchscreen interface, due out at the end of the month, it’s probably the worst time for touchscreens to come under fire.
Photo from ismashiphone