Letter from GoodElectronics to Toshiba, 28 Apr 2009

A letter from the GoodElectronics network regarding the serious situation for workers with excessive cadmium levels or cadmium poisoning at the JetPower factory, a Gold Peak Batteries subsidiary in Shenzhen, China.

April 28th, 2009

Dear Mr. Hozumi Asakawa, Toshiba

Dear Ms. Pretty Shrestha, Toshiba

On behalf of GoodElectronics, we would like to express our concern about the situation for workers with excessive cadmium levels at the JetPower factory, a Gold Peak Batteries subsidiary, in Shenzhen, China.

According to our information, these workers were producing parts that can be found in your products.

Since 2004, civil society groups in China and abroad have been concerned about recurring Occupational Health and Safety issues at subsidiary factories of Gold Peak batteries in Mainland China and Hong Kong.

One of these factories, JetPower in Shenzhen, recently announced the upcoming closure of its facility and the moving of its entire production to another plant in Huizhou.

Upon hearing rumours about these plans, concerned workers repeatedly attempted to discuss the closure and its consequences with the management at the factory, but to no avail. A one-week- long strike by a large majority of JetPower workers in February did not yield any results either. Subsequently, last week, ten (10) JetPower workers with excessive cadmium levels undertook a new round of action. During 24 hours workers took turns in attempting to prevent the JetPower plant from delivering its products.

JetPower workers have been affected with high cadmium levels and cadmium poisoning during their work at the JetPower plant over the past 5-10 years. What is more, this is not the only case in which workers of Gold Peak Batteries are affected by irresponsible exposure to cadmium. Reportedly, over the past years more than 400 workers have been affected. Workers of several Gold Peak Batteries subsidiaries have been struggling for years to get their claims acknowledged.

In this particular case, the affected JetPower workers fear that their outstanding medical claims will not be fully resolved when the factory closes down. They have been demanding negotiations with management on their compensation package (see attachment) but so far, without success.

Globalization Monitor, a Hong-Kong based research and campaigning organisation and a member of GoodElectronics, has been supportive of the struggle for recognition and compensation of Gold Peak Batteries workers who are affected by cadmium. Concerning the JetPower case, Globalization Monitor has sent open letters to Gold Peak Industrial Holding Ltd. on two occasions, March 23rd and April 22nd 2009, raising the issue of the JetPower factory, but without any direct response from the company so far.

On April 23rd, 2009, GoodElectronics subsequently sent a letter to Mr. Victor Lo Chong Wing, Chairperson at Gold Peak Industrial Holding Ltd., and to Mr. Mr.TSANG Kwan Lung, General Manager at Gold Peak batteries, urging them to respond by April 28th at the latest. April 28th is the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers observed annually by workers and trade unions worldwide.

In response to the letter by GoodElectronics, Gold Peak Batteries has stated that the factory had done everything in accordance with local laws and handled the cadmium incidents in a responsible manner. However, according to Globalization Monitor, the efforts made by the factory are far from being satisfying. In its letter, Gold Peak Batteries tries to picture itself as a reasonable and accessible company. The reality as experienced by the workers seems quite different, however. Reportedly, the JetPower management has not responded nicely to the striking and campaigning workers and used force against two women workers on strike. The workers have now been placed on indefinite mandatory leave until further notice as the factory management accused them of having caused serious losses to the company. GoodElectronics is most concerned about the situation at the JetPower Shenzhen plant and would like to see serious talks take place between the management and the workers at the JetPower factory. Gold Peak Batteries should take its responsibility and get involved in this dispute involving its subsidiary.

On behalf of GoodElectronics, I would like to inquire whether Toshiba is aware of the situation at JetPower. Also, on behalf of GoodElectronics, we would kindly like to ask you to use your influence as a buyer in order to make sure that adequate and fair talks between Jet Power management and the affected workers take place without delay. Moreover, it is of utmost importance that Gold Peak Industrial Holding Ltd. develops a package of adequate medical treatment and follow-up arrangements for the workers with excessive cadmium levels and cadmium poisoning of JetPower Shenzhen.

Please inform us about any steps you take in this case.


Eléonore Elfström Fauré

Fair Trade Center, on behalf of GoodElectronics

Fair Trade Centre is member of GoodElectronics and the Coordinator of GoodElectronics Urgent Appeals.
Appendix 1

Compensation Demands of JetPower Employees with Excessive Cadmium Levels

(Due to JetPower’s relocation or bankruptcy)

1. JetPower should pay for workers’ social security scheme (Shenzhen standard) until their retirement (retirement age for female 50 years old and male 60).
2. JetPower should pay nutrition Fee (300 Yuan per month) to all workers with excessive cadmium levels and placed under observation until the cadmium levels are back to normal.
3. JetPower should first pay the severance payment to workers with non-fixed labour contract an amount of “2 X no. of years of working X one-month salary” (2N, N= “no. of years of employment X one-month salary”). JetPower should arrange replacement for those who prefer to stay in Shenzhen, if not, JetPower should pay the severance payment for an amount of 3N. In addition to this, JetPower should follow the aforementioned 1) and 2).
4. GoldPeak should assign its other subsidiary in Shenzhen to be responsible for workers’ annual medical check-up and treatment. The arrangement should be written down and agreed by both parties and each worker will get a copy of the agreement.
5. The company should arrange urine tests for the children of workers with excessive cadmium levels annually. When the children are diagnosed as cadmium poisoned or with excessive cadmium levels, GP should take full responsibility.
6. In arranging new jobs for the workers with excessive cadmium levels, No discrimination should be taken against those with excessive cadmium levels. Workers should enjoy the same working conditions as the other workers have.

(With signatures from 10 workers with excessive cadmium levels)

16 March 2009