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N-hexane Poisoning Scare At Apple Supplier In China

Wintek Suzhou, an affiliate of Wintek Corporation and a major supplier of components for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, has been exposed by China Central Television for hazardous work conditions and disputes about employee welfare.

According to Focus, a program broadcast by CCTV, employees at a Wintek factory in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, went on strike in mid-January 2010 and this sparked the exposure of n-hexane poisoning cases at the factory. Zhang Lisheng, the deputy general manager of Wintek China, is reported as saying that the striking employees were mainly protesting the company's cancellation of year-end bonus, and the company denied that the employees' protest was to do with n-hexane poisoning. However Lu Zhenwei, the director of Suzhou Industrial Park Safety Production Management Bureau admitted that some employees at the company were indeed affected by n-hexane poisoning.

The CCTV report said that as at August 2009, 49 employees at Wintek had showed symptoms of hexane poisoning and were receiving treatment at a Suzhou hospital. The report said that the company illegally used hexane in place of alcohol for cleaning mobile phone screens, and this was the main cause of the n-hexane poisoning. The report said that the company has been asked to stop using this chemical and has been punished, with some of its management being dismissed.

Elsewhere, reports show that in May 2009 the Taiwan Labor Organization went to protest at Apple's office in Taiwan, accusing Wintek Corporation, the parent company of Wintek for ignoring worker's rights, offering bad working conditions, and cutting staff illegally.

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