An open letter from two former Apple factory employees has been released by SumOfUs.org. SumOfUs is currently working on a petition that it will deliver during Apple's shareholder meeting on February 23. According to Boy Genius Report, the organization today released the following letter to the media. Written by Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan, both of whom worked assembling Apple's iPhone touch screens in Suzhou, China, the letter calls for reform and education with regard to what goes on at the factories.
"If more people know about what we went through, Apple will feel pressured to change so other workers don’t have to suffer like we did," the letter reads, later adding, "It has been over two years since many of us were hospitalized and treated but our debilitating symptoms continue. Rui-Qiang still can’t find work because he can no longer stand for the long hours most jobs require. Jing-Chuan has to spend nearly $100 a month on health supplements."
On the SumOfUs website, the organization highlights the fact that the iPhone 5 will be a major product launch for Tim Cook as Apple's new CEO and says this is the perfect opportunity to put pressure on the company to change its ways.
"Right now we have a huge opportunity as ethical consumers: The launch of the iPhone 5 later this year will be new Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first big product rollout, and he can’t afford for anything to go wrong — including negative publicity around how Apple’s suppliers treat their workers."
You can check out the SumOfUs campaign and petition here. The full letter from Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan is available below.
[UPDATE] An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan worked at a Foxconn facility. However, Foxconn has said neither Guo Rui-qiang nor Jia Jing-chuan are former Foxconn employees and the situation described in the letter below did not take place at a Foxconn facility. Tom's Hardware would like to apologize for this mistake and any confusion it has caused.
Dear SumOfUs Members and Friends -
You don’t know us but you have seen our work. Until recently, we worked long hours assembling Apple’s iPhone touch screens in Suzhou, China.
In early 2010, it was independently confirmed that 137 workers, including us, were poisoned by a chemical called n-hexane which was used to clean iPhone screens. N-hexane is known to cause eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation, and leads to persistant nerve damage. Apple admitted to gross labour rights violations more than a year later.
If more people know about what we went through, Apple will feel pressured to change so other workers don’t have to suffer like we did.
We have been pressuring Apple, and its new CEO Tim Cook, for years to compensate those of us who were injured working for them, and demanding reform of working conditions at their Chinese factories so that their workers don’t suffer like we do. Now we need your help as customers or potential customers of Apple.
We need your help to send a message to Apple before their shareholder meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23rd. We want to see a strict corporate social responsibility and reform of the audit system to prevent similar tragedies in the future. He will listen to you as current or potential consumers.
You’ve already signed the petition, and 82,000 others have too — for that, we thank you. We believe it’d be symbolicly powerful if 100,000 people signed the petition before SumOfUs delivers it to Tim Cook on Thursday at their shareholder meeting. We’re really close to that goal, but we need you to share our request with your friends to get over the edge.
It has been over two years since many of us were hospitalized and treated but our debilitating symptoms continue. Rui-Qiang still can’t find work because he can no longer stand for the long hours most jobs require. Jing-Chuan has to spend nearly $100 a month on health supplements.
But with all of us working together to pressure Apple to change, we can make sure what happened to us doesn’t happen to others too.
- Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan