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Chinese Factory Workers Write to Steve Jobs

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 133 comments

A bad gas.

Many of our computers and electronic gadgets are possible thanks to the production facilities in China. The focus on production capacity sometimes leads to neglect for the conditions that human beings must endure just to make the latest piece of technology.

Now several workers from Wintek, which make touch screens for Apple devices, has written a letter to Steve Jobs regarding the hardships they had to endure, particularly with regards to the use of hexyl hydride, also called n-hexane, from May 2008 to August 2009.

According to Reuters, part of the letter read: "This is a killer, a killer that strikes invisibly. … From when hexyl hydride was used, monthly profits at Apple and Wintek have gone up by tens of millions every month, the accumulated outcome of workers' lives and health."

Wintek used n-hexane in the production of touch-panels, but has since stopped when it found out that it was making its workers ill. Now the plant has switched back to alcohol, which achieves the same result but slower.

It's not immediately clear what the workers are hoping to achieve by sending an English version of the letter to Apple. One technician said, "I hope Apple can respect our labor and our dignity. I hope they can stand up and apologize to us," while another worker explained, "We are unable to cope with the medical costs of treatment in the future."

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Top Comments
  • 34 Hide
    bejabbers , March 6, 2011 2:18 AM
    Apple doesn't care about people, especially it's workers? What a shocker!!
  • 10 Hide
    wiyosaya , March 6, 2011 2:38 AM
    Most American companies only know one thing - the bottom line. The CEO's of those companies know nothing of respect for the individuals who made them some of the "richest" people in the world. Why on Earth would Jobs or Apple apologize to any worker injured putting them on top of the world? They would rather remodel their offices instead of doing the right thing.

    PS - I'm an American.
Other Comments
  • 34 Hide
    bejabbers , March 6, 2011 2:18 AM
    Apple doesn't care about people, especially it's workers? What a shocker!!
  • 7 Hide
    undead_assault , March 6, 2011 2:20 AM
    hmmm, I hope they got increasing wage. After all, they deserved it.
  • 4 Hide
    manitoublack , March 6, 2011 2:29 AM
    The Hard reality of the computer industry

    Hurts
  • 6 Hide
    house70 , March 6, 2011 2:36 AM
    I can think of a few things that Stevie will do with that letter... None very pleasant.
    hint to workers: time wasted!
  • -7 Hide
    belardo , March 6, 2011 2:37 AM
    Who cares?

    This is why Unions suck which prevents America from competing with China and other such countries! Those pesky worker rights, work hour limits, safety requirements, minimal pay all get in the way of progress.

    We also should go back to 1950s tax rates too!
  • 10 Hide
    wiyosaya , March 6, 2011 2:38 AM
    Most American companies only know one thing - the bottom line. The CEO's of those companies know nothing of respect for the individuals who made them some of the "richest" people in the world. Why on Earth would Jobs or Apple apologize to any worker injured putting them on top of the world? They would rather remodel their offices instead of doing the right thing.

    PS - I'm an American.
  • 0 Hide
    kcorp2003 , March 6, 2011 2:42 AM
    Well its sad, surprise machines haven't take up their jobs yet.
  • 2 Hide
    wiyosaya , March 6, 2011 2:45 AM
    BelardoWho cares?This is why Unions suck which prevents America from competing with China and other such countries! Those pesky worker rights, work hour limits, safety requirements, minimal pay all get in the way of progress.We also should go back to 1950s tax rates too!

    And you? You sound like the one doing the whipping rather than being whipped. Perhaps you should try the other side for once in your life. Did your parents birth you with a silver spoon already in your mouth?

    I think you are spouting a lot of BS. The only reason we "cannot compete" is because we are sending all of our business to China rather than keeping it on our own turf. China would not be where it is unless Americans put it there. If we just stopped having stuff produced in China, China would fall flat on its face.

    And why are we sending all our business to China? In pursuit of the all mighty dollar bill - the Holy Grail of capitalism that is causing its downfall.

    Crawl back under a rock, troll, instead of hailing those who cause injury to others.
  • 3 Hide
    joytech22 , March 6, 2011 2:48 AM
    Apple "supposedly" has one of the highest working standards around, but that doesn't take into account who makes their products for them.

    Either way, people are like sheep to Apple and almost every large company out there, they buy and build their products/services to a high standard/price and sell them back to more people for $$$.
  • 7 Hide
    hotelromeo , March 6, 2011 2:49 AM
    Jobs wrote back:

    Dear China,

    I am terminal
  • 5 Hide
    subgum , March 6, 2011 2:56 AM
    Something many are forgetting is that Apple is not their employer.
    They're more than likely Foxconn employees.

    I actually would love to blame Apple and Steve Jobs for their conditions, but it's just not that simple.

    Anyways, I hope Apple can perhaps put some pressure on Foxconn to at least provide some kind of compensation for work caused health issues.
  • -1 Hide
    belardo , March 6, 2011 3:02 AM
    Wiyosaya: Not sure you read my post right.

    If Corp. America degrades our workforce to sub-standard levels... then we too can compete with China, India, etc. I mean it in an insulting way in that jobs and products are sent over-seas so the company makes money.

    If ALL jobs (manufacturing, support, information) is exported overseas.... then WHAT is it that WE DO to make money to buy the crap we want?

    Guess who shot down the bill to tax companies who send jobs overseas?

    There is a video-article (I think its on ABC) in which they removed every non-American item out of a family house. Everything was gone! It took a lot of work to replace most of that stuff with USA items.

    It is said (if I remember this right) that if Americans spent 1% more a day on American products, it would generate 200,000 jobs. So if 10% more spending on American happened... that would be over 2million jobs.

    How about that A-Hole Gov. Walker of Wisconsin? He's a scam artist and its all about making money and money for his friends. Lets see, first thing he did - give tax breaks to business which... created the $3billion budget short-fall he's bitchin about. Those teachers gave up their money to pay for it... what a rip.

    This is the SAME jerk who fired all the Milwaukee city's security (he had to fight for it, and then he just simply DID it) - HIRED a UK Security contractor to replace those jobs. The city is sued for lying about the saving and reasons for the firing (illegal firing) and has re-hired all the OLD guards... with BACK pay. And because of the contract... they have to PAY the UK company money too!

    So much for the savings, they are already $500,000+ in the hole because of Walker... and that moron wants to do it on a state level with education?

    PS: because how he's moving around money in the state, he's going to cost the state an additional $30 million in debt in the next few months.

    Then there is CRY-BABY Boehner who says "SO BE IT", if there cutting plans will mean the loss of 800,000+ American jobs. The job loss would of course hurt the economy, taxes and in return = a LOSS of income for the country.

    Oh well... SO BE IT! "Your Fired!".
  • 1 Hide
    Blessedman , March 6, 2011 3:19 AM
    If this is the way that a company wishes to operate to make a profit than that is their decision. They can't pass along blame. They have been able to undercut everyone and now they pay the price for it. This needs to happen so we can get an equalization of work forces and labor cost.
  • 2 Hide
    Unperson , March 6, 2011 4:15 AM
    Well.. ..this story is putting all the "I just gotta tell ya!" bandwagons in one big circle, isn't it?

    ...and there certaintly doesn't seem to be a shortage of injuns with troll warpaint on.
  • 1 Hide
    smeker , March 6, 2011 5:14 AM
    wiyosayaMost American companies only know one thing - the bottom line. The CEO's of those companies know nothing of respect for the individuals who made them some of the "richest" people in the world. Why on Earth would Jobs or Apple apologize to any worker injured putting them on top of the world? They would rather remodel their offices instead of doing the right thing.PS - I'm an American.


    Dont be a moron. What does Steve J. have to do with a manufacturing company in China. Apple orders, the parts as all the other companies, including, Microsoft, HP, Dell... It's the Owners and Senior management of those companies who should read that letter. Apple has nothing to do with it... I guess they can discontinue their business with the Chinese manufacturer, but that will not better the life of those workers.

    Also where do you think those shoes you are wearing and the keyboard you are typing on is made? It's one thing to feel with this workers but being a hypocrite will not get you anywhere.
  • -1 Hide
    aaron88_7 , March 6, 2011 5:53 AM
    smekerDont be a moron. What does Steve J. have to do with a manufacturing company in China.

    Before calling people morons you probably should learn some basic English skills. You're missing a question mark if you still don't understand.

    But Apple absolutely knows who is producing the parts for its products and how they treat their employees. No other electronic company pays as close attention to detail as Apple does so to assume they aren't aware of the human rights abuses at the plants that produce the products they buy then you're kidding yourself.

    Many companies have focused on ensuring employees are treated well and have a safe place to work in China. Not because they are moral companies but because unlike Apple they are run by people smart enough to want to not be the company in the newspapers that has factory workers killing themselves due to dire working conditions.

    Apple shares as much blame as the people running the factories, to shift blame away from Apple is disingenuous and just flat out ignorant.

    This is a good reason why I avoid Chinese made products as much as possible. I'll gladly pay more to support products made in democratic countries. That is why I chose to buy a Samsung monitor instead of an Asus monitor. Definitely worth the $50 extra to support democracy.
  • 2 Hide
    enzo matrix , March 6, 2011 6:28 AM
    subgumSomething many are forgetting is that Apple is not their employer. They're more than likely Foxconn employees.I actually would love to blame Apple and Steve Jobs for their conditions, but it's just not that simple.Anyways, I hope Apple can perhaps put some pressure on Foxconn to at least provide some kind of compensation for work caused health issues.

    If you read the article, you would know that they are Wintek employees.
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , March 6, 2011 7:28 AM
    wiyosayaAnd you? You sound like the one doing the whipping rather than being whipped. Perhaps you should try the other side for once in your life. Did your parents birth you with a silver spoon already in your mouth?I think you are spouting a lot of BS. The only reason we "cannot compete" is because we are sending all of our business to China rather than keeping it on our own turf. China would not be where it is unless Americans put it there. If we just stopped having stuff produced in China, China would fall flat on its face.And why are we sending all our business to China? In pursuit of the all mighty dollar bill - the Holy Grail of capitalism that is causing its downfall.Crawl back under a rock, troll, instead of hailing those who cause injury to others.


    yea, lets put it this way, unions ruin out factory work. a union will froce employers to meet dumb demands. here is an example from my dad. there is an old guy working where he works, basically an industrial plumber, he gets payed a crap ton and does almost nothing all day. he cant be fired because of old age and poorer performance than the young counterpart, who makes less.

    unions help allot of people but for every 1 they help, they screw over 5 more.

    a while back the union was preparing to go on strike for one reason, they wanted more benefits. they already had DAMN nice benefits, but they wanted more, and this would have cost several people my dad knew their homes, for NOTHING.

    employers should do only 2 things, give fair benefits, and give incentive ised pay on top of hourly minimum, it gives hard workers more money, and a bare minimum for people who just want to do the bare minimum.

    wiyosayaMost American companies only know one thing - the bottom line. The CEO's of those companies know nothing of respect for the individuals who made them some of the "richest" people in the world. Why on Earth would Jobs or Apple apologize to any worker injured putting them on top of the world? They would rather remodel their offices instead of doing the right thing.PS - I'm an American.


    the right thing on the open market is to the share holders. many ceos if they dont make the bad decisions risk being kicked out of their office (with pay but still) if they make the wrong money choice, and if they make the right one, they may still be kicked out.

    you get nothing about how corpertions work and the decisions they are forced to make. lets see you make the decision between good for the share holders wallet and good for the workers, either way you go, you could get kicked out.
  • 2 Hide
    keenmetal , March 6, 2011 7:29 AM
    aaron88_7That is why I chose to buy a Samsung monitor instead of an Asus monitor. Definitely worth the $50 extra to support democracy.


    I'm afraid you've been wasting your money. ASUS is located in the Republic of China/Taiwan. Taiwan IS a democracy.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 6, 2011 7:54 AM
    Ditto on Samsung. Also Blackberry, which builds in Canada or Mexico. Thus far all my Blackberries have been made in Canada.

    Nokia supposedly runs a clean ship.
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