Strike by 5,000 Nikon workers at Wuxi in eastern China
More than 50 workers poisoned at Japanese-owned camera factory
Workers at a factory of Japanese camera manufacturer Nikon Corp. in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, went on strike over the way an apparent gas poisoning incident has been handled by management and authorities. Local officials are now reported to be investigating the matter.
According to the Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao, some 5,000 workers took strike action on Saturday 8 May, objecting to what they see as a cover up by factory management after more than 50 workers suffered from apparent gas poisoning. The workers are demanding compensation. Their protest blocked traffic in the area but broke up later in the day. Several hundred workers continued to protest earlier this week, according to media reports.
More than 50 workers at the Wuxi plant have taken ill since late April, complaining of nausea and vomiting from the apparent release of sulfur dioxide in the area. Nikon and local government officials claimed the gas was from a nearby pharmaceutical company, rather than the camera factory itself.
Late last week, the Wuxi health bureau enraged the workers when it issued a statement saying that the results of tests at the factory had shown no problems. According to this statement, doctors who examined the workers found no serious abnormalities and concluded that any problems were "psychological". It recommended counseling for the workers.
But this version is challenged by hospital workers who spoke to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. They said that eight of the factory's workers were hospitalized after being seriously affected by sulfur dioxide poisoning. Exposure to very high levels of sulfur dioxide can be life threatening.