September 7, 2007
Dear Mr. Lo
Today is GP’s annual shareholder meeting. Once again the GP Cadmium Poisoning Coalition stages a protest against your company, which continues to poison many workers with cadmium in your plants in mainland China. The Coalition urges GP to accept the workers’ major demands.
Gold Peak Industries (Holdings) Hong Kong owns GP batteries in China and as such has direct responsibility. As a result of GPs long-term negligence in production safety, many workers were found to have been poisoned through their work at GP:
- 21 workers from three mainland GP plants and three workers from GP plants in Hong Kong are affected by cadmium poisoning.
- Several hundred workers from the mainland and 21 workers from Hong Kong are still found to have excessive cadmium levels and have been placed under observation.
The increasing number of workers, from two to 21, being poisoned by cadmium shows that the incident is expanding and deepening, instead of diminishing and being resolved. Although your company has said you will always take care of the workers, evidence shows that your company is not responsible enough. For example, Xiang Zhiqing, an ex-GP worker being diagnosed as cadmium poisoning in early 2006 had to fight for more than one year before being accepted as a victim of cadmium poisoning. Ex-GP workers with excessive cadmium levels have been highly discriminated against by the GP management. For example, the treatment between those who joined the collective (148 workers) court case demanding legal and qualified body check ups and those who did not joined is different—the check up forms were different, reimbursements and meals were not as good as those involved in the court case. Evidence shows that even for a small legitimate right, GP wants the workers to file a court case to fight for it. This leads to the exhaustion of workers’ time, money and energy. Is this a responsible way of solving the problem?
Since 2004, workers at GP batteries in China have been demanding fair compensation from your company but you have always rejected their just demands. Your company insists that extra compensation outside the law has been given to workers, i.e. the small sum of ‘subsidy’ ranging from 3,000 - 8,000 Yuan. You have never made any other compensation to the affected workers. In 2004, many workers with excessive cadmium levels were misled by the GP management and left the company. According to law, the company should keep an employment relationship with workers with occupational diseases or those suspected of having a disease and should not dismiss the affected workers. Many workers later found that they were discriminated by other employers and could not find a new job because they had worked for GP before. These workers have been facing a difficult economic situation and have always been demanding reinstatement. In May 2007, through the Huizhou local authorities, your company agreed to reinstate those newly found with cadmium poisoning. However, this promise has not yet been realized even today.- let alone help offered to those with excessive cadmium levels. We understand that reinstatement of those newly found workers with cadmium poisoning is not as urgent as those with excessive cadmium levels because once a worker is diagnosed as cadmium poisoning with a medical certificate; your company, by law, has to pay for her medical treatment, wages, and nutrition fee, etc. despite the fact that she/he is no longer a GP worker. Reinstatement of those with excessive cadmium levels is more urgent and helpful because this group of workers is in dire economic situation—no work and no income. However, your company has rejected their demand.
Workers have another worry: according to the results of the 2007 annual body check ups kept by the officials, the number of workers with excessive cadmium levels has fallen from 400 to around 200, which is 50% less within a year. According to this “official” speed, workers with excessive cadmium levels worry that they will soon be informed that they no longer have excessive cadmium levels in their body. That means they no longer have the rights to demand GP be responsible for them.
Many workers suspect the urine test result does not reflect the real cadmium levels in their body because some workers who are told they have “normal’ cadmium levels paid – out of their own expenses - to have a double check up at the same Hospital for the Treatment and Prevention of Occupational Diseases and they found themselves being tested as positive for still having excessive cadmium levels in their body. Despite this test, according to the official records kept by GP, they are no longer in the list of workers placed under observation and thus have lost the right to come back for a body check next year. Due to serious attempts to cover-up the truth in the past, the examinations conducted by the same hospital but with completely different diagnosis means that the workers suspect that the real truth is being covered-up in order to close the case as soon as possible.
Today we demand your company accept the workers’ major demands immediately:
- Provide full medical examinations and treatment to all the affected workers and their children;
- Reinstatement of all the workers who have signed up to be reinstated;.
- Full compensation for those who do not want to be reinstated.
If the above demands are not fulfilled, please pay full compensation now!
GP Cadmium Poisoning Coalition
Contact person: Miss Wong
September 7, 2007