Protest outside Hong Kong company as poisoning scandal deepens.
"No to Gold Peak, full compensation now" demanded more than seventy workers from the Hong Kong-owned battery producer Gold Peak and their supporters at a late evening protest outside the company’s head office in Kwai Chung, Hong Kong, on 13 December.
The scandal at the transnational company’s China factories deepened in the last few hours giving vent to a new round of angry protests. As chinaworker.org reported yesterday, 200 workers turning up for their annual health check-up (to monitor cadmium poisoning levels in their body) were told by management to undress and shower – in order to leave a urine sample! When workers refused and complained to management about this humiliating treatment they were physically assaulted by security staff. According to later reports, a group of workers at the factory have since been surrounded by the police and are not being allowed to leave, or even go to the toilet.
Hong Kong workers also poisoned
More than 400 workers at Gold Peak’s three China-based factories are suffering from high levels of exposure to the cancer-causing chemical cadmium, as a result of handling the chemical without protective clothing or proper safety instruction. The case has already received considerable international attention. Such injuries are typical in China where over 136,000 workers died in industrial accidents last year, according to official figures, and foreign and Chinese companies alike benefit from a complete lack of costly safety enforcement and widespread bribe-taking by enforcement agencies. Gold Peak workers, together with supporters and labour rights activists, have been campaigning for improved compensation from the company and better provision of medical check-ups, sickness insurance etc., so far with only a derisory offer from the Gold Peak board headed by Victor Lo Chung Wing.
Campaigners attending the Hong Kong anti-WTO week of action received more shocking news: that more than 30 workers at Gold Peak’s Hong Kong factory have also been diagnosed with high levels of cadmium. (For more about the effects of cadmium poisoning and other background on Gold Peak click here). One of the Hong Kong workers now needs a kidney transplant, others have developed pains and need to undergo liver and diaphragm tests. Workers were further angered when Gold Peak management refused to comment on the latest outbreak, but merely referred workers to the local labour bureau.
"Chemical Victor" guilty of poisoning
Under heavy police guard, with workers being filmed throughout the entire event, the anti-Gold Peak demonstration assembled at the main anti-WTO protest to wind its way to the company head office. The spirited demonstration which broke into choruses of "Solidarity Forever" also heard speakers from local campaign groups, the unions at Hong Kong’s and Taiwan’s Gold Peak factories (the company’s mainland workers are not allowed to join a union) and a visitor from Dutch trade union FNV.
"This latest outrage will generate a storm of international protests from workers’ organisations," said Laurence Coates, addressing the demonstration on behalf of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).
"We accuse ’Chemical Victor’ Lo of Gold Peak of being a mass poisoner of workers, and rather than them ordering workers to undress, an international campaign is going to undress and expose Gold Peak before world public opinion," he said to applause.
It is now urgent that workers’ representatives, trade union branches and other organisations demonstrate solidarity with non-unionised Chinese workers being exploited for profits of global corporations (Gold Peak supplies its products to big name computer and electrical producers).
- Gold Peak are guilty of mass poisoning – bring the bosses to justice!
- Stop physical mistreatment and threats against Gold Peak workers.
- Meet in full the workers’ demands for compensation and a medical insurance fund to cover expensive.
- For health and safety training to be under trade union control – for independent unions at Gold Peak and other China-based factories.
Send protests to:
Gold Peak Industries (Holdings) Limited
Mr Victor Lo Chung Wing.
8/F Gold Peak Building
30 Kwai Wing Road
Fax : 2489 1879 / 2423 2660
Send copy to Globalization Monitor:
P.O.Box 72797, Kowloon Post Office, Hong Kong.
Send copy to chinaworker: