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Silicon Sweatshops: Apple supply chain workers in Asia fall ill again

Toxic chemical n-hexane is central to a new outbreak of sickness in eastern China.

The Hong Kong-based Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior has called on Wintek and Apple to step in and rectify the situation. The group said in a statement that Apple should ensure Wintek and its local subsidiary provide medical treatment for the workers it poisoned, and better salaries across the board, even if that means higher prices on Apple’s popular gadgets.

The group’s Debby Chan said SACOM’s investigation into factory conditions in Suzhou showed that while n-hexane has been taken from the equation, workers continue to be exposed to harmful chemicals on the job without proper protective gear. For the workers, paying medical expenses themselves simply isn’t possible. Jia said his 10 months in the hospital cost 250,000 yuan ($38,000). He earns $275 a month at the factory.

“My family can’t afford to pay for medical treatment and I don’t earn enough money. How much money does a family of farmers have?” he said. “It is not fair to make my family responsible for this; they are innocent.”