A pair of workers who claim to have been poisoned by toxins in a Suzhou, China factory while assembling touchscreens for Apple’s iPhone have written an open letter begging consumers to demand reform. SumOfUs, the organization behind the Ethical iPhone Campaign, released the letter in an email to the media on Wednesday afternoon. The letter was written by Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan, two former factory workers who urge consumers to sign SumOfUs’s petition and demand that Apple force its suppliers and manufacturing partners to improve working conditions at their Chinese factories. Both workers claim to have been poisoned by a chemical cleaner called N-hexane, and they have suffered neurological damage as a result. The Fair Labor Association is currently conduction inspections of two Foxconn factories, prompted by Apple, and while only preliminary inspections have been made at this point, the organization says it has already found “tons of issues.” The workers’ letter follows below in its entirety.
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