Apple plant injures 61 Chinese workers

Fruity cargo-cult Apple will again have to face accusations that its Chinese operations are run like sweat-shops after 61 workers were blown up trying to make the back panels of the iPad 2.

The need to satisfy demand for the high mark-up gadgets allegedly saw 23 workers hospitalised at Apple supplier Pegatron.

Pegatron Chief Financial Officer Charles Lin told Reuters  that the explosion at the plant belonged to Riteng Computer Accessory in Shanghai’s Songjiang industrial park. It had not caused a fire so all those casualties were in one big bang.

Reuters summed up the priorities of the outfit by showing a second statement from Pegatron saying that there was some damage to machinery but it could make adjustments to the facility to minimise the impact on operations and revenue.

The 61 workers, of whom 23 had burns and were hospitalised, were lucky to escape with non life-threatening injuries.

However, there are terrifying rumours in Appleland that the supply chain for the iPad 2 might be effected by the blast.  

The plant will be shut until there is an investigation by the Shanghai city government, which has gone flat out to get a report done. The detailed report was expected to have been completed a few hours after the plant when bang – that is efficiency for you.

Apple has had a few problems with its supply chain and criticism from the Chinese government, and labour and environmental groups.

Hon Hai Precision Industry had two fire incidents at China plants this year. Three people were killed at its electronics polishing facility in Chengdu. In September, electrical cables on a building rooftop at a Shangdong plant caught fire but caused no casualties.

Death by fire was not the biggest problem at Shangdon. Hon Hai had a problem with its staff killing themselves rather than work excrutiating hours. Local Labour groups blamed the deaths on overwork and poor conditions.

If the death of workers did not tar Apple enough in October, some of its suppliers were accused in a report by state broadcaster China Central Television of causing pollution.

Catcher Technology, which makes the beautiful cases for Apple, was ordered to close a factory because of complaints that there were toxic smells coming from the plant.

Last month, Apple sat down with a number of its manufacturers and partners in China to discuss the environment and its supply chain. The meeting was held in secret, but was heralded as an important step by some environmental organisations. Clearly they still have a few things to sort out.