Shenzhen workers sue HK battery company

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2005, 12:00am

Shenzhen workers yesterday took their employer, Hong Kong battery maker Gold Peak Industries (Holdings), to court for allegedly failing to provide them with adequate protection against a cancer-causing chemical they handled.

Seventeen workers of the Shenzhen Jieba battery factory, a subsidiary of Gold Peak, are suing the company for damages after excessive cadmium concentrations were found in their bodies. Cadmium is a cancer-causing heavy metal used in battery manufacturing.

The workers accused the management of not telling them of the potential hazards and of not giving them proper protection. They demanded a total of 4.25 million yuan in compensation at the Shenzhen Luohu People's Court.

'I suffered severe headaches and dizziness. My periods are getting very irregular and the doctor warned that I may not be able to give birth again,' said 32-year-old Deng Chahua .

Ms Deng, who joined the battery maker in 1996, had cadmium levels three times higher than the Ministry of Health's safety standards. Her three-year-old daughter, who lived with her in a dormitory, also had excessive concentrations of the chemical.

Another worker, Huang Hongxin , 28, said the company did not provide enough protective equipment. 'We only had basic face masks and gloves. The company never arranged any check-ups for us until workers in Huizhou were found to have been poisoned,' Mr Huang said.

Thirty-two workers at the Jieba factory had excessive cadmium levels during a check-up earlier this year. Two were in a serious condition and had needed treatment at a Guangzhou hospital, said Zhou Litai, lawyer for the plaintiffs.

A Gold Peak Group spokesman yesterday said it had followed local laws and regulations. But he admitted that about 400 workers from Huizhou and Shenzhen were under medical observation because of excessive cadmium levels.

A Shenzhen judge yesterday adjourned the case for a date to be fixed.



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