More fuel has been added to the blaze of controversy over factory conditions at Apple suppliers, with two workers claiming they were poisoned and are now appealing directly to the firm's customers.
The two want to draw attention to the plight of workers aflicted by the n-hexane cleaning chemical.
The chemical n-hexane had been used in producing iPhones in Suzhou, China. Back in 2010, 137 poisoned workers grabbed the headlines after an independent investigation slammed conditions. Apple admitted at the time that it had committed labour rights violations through the use of the chemical, which can cause respiratory tract irritation leading to nerve damage.
Recently, Apple has been under intense pressure to improve conditions of its suppliers factories in China and is the subject of investigations. With a constant stream of high profile product launches Apple has been attempting to placate the groundswell of public opinion against its supply.
However, Apple has suffered another blow to its reputation with a campaign calling for compensation from Cupertino, as part of the SumOfUs campaign.
Two workers, Gou Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan, highlighted their continued appeal to CEO Tim Cook and other Apple top brass, following their hospitalisation due to n-hexane exposure.
The letter appears to be aimed directly to the millions of Apple customers which are unaware of the conditions in which their shiny gadgets are made. With Apple readying itself for launching the iPad 3 next month, the letter will undoubtedly cause more embarrassment.
“You don’t know us but you have seen our work,” the letter reads. “Until recently, we worked long hours assembling Apple’s iPhone touch screens in Suzhou, China.
“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.”
Over 84,000 people have so far signed the petition, though the target is to reach past the 100,000 mark ahead of the imminent shareholder meeting.
TechEye approached the Fair Labor Association, which is leading investigations into the working conditions of Apple, suppliers, such as Foxconn in China for a response to the letter.
However the FLA refused to comment, claiming “investigations are ongoing” with inspections continuing in Shenzen and Chengdu plants.
A copy of the letter can be seen here on the appeal website.