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Explosion at Foxconn factory in Chengdu, China

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Friday May 20, an explosion occured at the Northern factory of the Foxconn plant in Chengdu, killing 3 workers and injuring 15, of whom 3 seriously. The Foxconn plant in Chengdu is a major production site for Apple’s iPads. City officials in Chengdu said the explosion had been caused by combustible dust in an air duct at a polishing workshop. Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) has condemned Foxconn for its negligence in maintaining work safety in the factory. In a report published in early May SACOM pinpointed the problem of the aluminum dust in the polishing department. makeITfair and GoodElectronics called in an International Action day on the 7th of May upon Apple to take the lead in improving working conditions in the supply chain.

Foxconn announced an expansion and relocation plan to inner provinces of China in response to the suicide cases. Since last summer the company has been moving to new production sites. Among them the Chengdu plant where the explosion occurred was built with a “world record” of 76 days. Terry Gou, the CEO of Foxconn, proudly stated that the plant was accomplished in line with Foxconn’s speed.

The tragedy happened in the polishing department of Foxconn and involved an explosion of ultra-light dust. Workers complained to SACOM that the ventilation of department is poor. Workers polish the iPad cases to make them shinny. In the process, there is lots of aluminum dust floating in the air. Workers always breathe in aluminum dust even though they put on mask. When workers take off their cotton gloves, their hands are covered with aluminum dust. Regardless the explosion, this is detrimental to the health of workers.

On 6 May, SACOM published an investigative report, Foxconn and Apple Fail to Fulfill Promises: Predicaments of Workers after the Suicides(opens in new window) , which documented a number of occupational safety issues at Foxconn. In addition, the New Generation Migrant Workers Concerned Group of the Peking University and Tsinghua University has released a report, Moving to the West: Report on Foxocnn’s Relocation, also highlighted the problem of inadequate personal protective equipment at Foxconn’s plants Chongqing and Chengdu.

On May 7th, people all over Europe and around the world joined makeITfair and GoodElectronics in an international day of action(opens in new window) . This action day demonstrated to Apple and to the whole IT sector that the consumers do not accept the unfair working conditions and environmental destruction that amongst others makeITfair, GoodElectronics and SACOM have revealed.

SACOM published a statement(opens in new window) , in which they demand Foxconn and Apple to:

  1. release the victim list and apologize to the victims and their family;
  2. set up independent investigation group to examine the cause of the explosion and release the findings to the workers and public;
  3. hold the management accountable for the explosion;
  4. compensate and provide treatment to the victims immediately; and
  5. work with labour rights group on work safety at Foxconn and provide pre-post and on-post training, health examination, adequate protective equipment for all workers.

short movie of the explosion made with a mobile phone

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