Poisoned iPhone factory workers release petition calling for reform

Apple has been in the media as of late for their manufacturing plant Foxconn. Many have profiled the plant as having terrible working conditions, but when we got an inside look last night, things didn’t look as bad as previously depicted. The FLA is currently inside of Foxconn inspecting conditions and is poised to publish a report soon.

Today, at another China plant that manufacturers screens for the iPhone, two workers who claimed they were poisoned on the job have prompted a new petition…

The group SumOfUs has collaborated with the poisoned workers, whose names are Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chua. Both workers have claimed to be poisoned by a chemical cleaner called N-hexane that they used while working on Apple’s iPhone. As a result of being poisoned, both workers are suffering from neurological damage.

SumOfUs was one of the groups that were behind the rally in front of the Grand Central Apple Store that called Apple to release a “worker protection strategy”. Today’s petition, according to the press release obtained by BGR, calls for customers to demand reform from Apple:

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.

Can you share this letter with your friends, and ask them to join you in signing our petition calling for a reform of working conditions at their factories?

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.

Can you share our letter with your friends, and ask them to sign the petition too?

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

Despite all of the allegations against the factories Apple uses to produce its products, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has reassured us multiple times that Apple’s factories are the best in the area. Cook released a statement to the NY Times after their infamous report depicting working conditions. He also talked about it on Apple’s Q2 2012 Financial Earnings report and most recenetly at the Goldman Sach’s investor conference.

We’re really looking forward to FLA’s report, which should give us a fair, unbiased, look inside of Apple’s Foxconn. However, just because Foxconn’s conditions are good doesn’t mean Apple’s smaller manufacturers have similar conditions — vice-versa.

The situation of Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chua at the  Suzhou, China factory doesn’t look to be unique. The press release says 137 workers have also had similar issues while working on the iPhone.

You can sign SumOfUs’s petition on their website. The group hopes 100,000 people will sign the petition before Apple’s shareholder meeting on Thursday, where we’ll most likely hear more out of Tim Cook.