Strike hits Chinese screenmaker

Workers at a factory making screens for consumer electronics giants such as Nokia and Apple have walked out on strike in protest over bonuses not being paid and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Workers at a factory making screens for consumer electronics giants such as Nokia and Apple have walked out on strike in protest over bonuses not being paid and exposure to toxic chemicals.

According to China Daily the strike involves some 2,000 of the factory's 10,000 workers. The strike at United Win (China) Technology (a subsidiary of the Taiwanese company WinTek) is over the suspension of bonuses and the company's continued use of a chemical - n-hexane - which workers blame for deaths and paralysis.

It seems that the strike turned quite violent, with roads being blocked, vehicles being smashed and stones being thrown.

"The truth has been hidden from public view. There are people dying from long-term exposure to the toxicant used in the factory but no one is paying attention to that. There needs to be further investigation," a worker surnamed Zhu, who took part in Friday's gathering yet declined to give his full name, told China Daily yesterday.

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Hexane is known to create extensive peripheral nervous system failure in humans. The initial symptoms are tingling and cramps in the arms and legs, followed by general muscular weakness. In severe cases, atrophy of the skeletal muscles is observed, along with a loss of coordination and problems of vision.

Zhu also complained of work overload and low pay at the factory, which he believed had driven many migrant workers like him to suffer from poor health and poverty.

It seems that bonuses are now being paid and the company is making promises that n-hexane is being phased out, but it does offer an insight into the human cost of the devices that we take for granted.

There's no word on whether this strike will have an impact on shipments.