GP (Gold Peak) is a brand of nickel cadmium battery sold in Asia.
Like many light manufacturing exporters, the company is headquartered in Hong Kong but the batteries are made in the Pearl River Delta. GP owns two factories in Huizhou.
The workers at these factories have been exposed to unacceptably high levels of cadmium in production of the batteries. Unsafe work practices include handling cadmium with bare hands. Several employees were poisoned by their exposure to toxic chemicals.
The company at first refused to reveal the results of medical tests which revealed that workers had excessively high levels of cadmium in their blood, and only did so after 500 workers went on strike. Even so, privately-arranged tests showed cadmium levels up to 86 times higher than the ‘official’ results.
Advocacy group Globalisation Monitor has assisted individual workers in obtaining press coverage and taking legal action against the company for improved practices and compensation. GM asserts that the poisonings occurred as a result of:
- ongoing managerial negligence,
- noncompliance with Occupational Health and Safety laws, and
- failure to provide adequate training
A number of the lawsuits have been successful, with around ¥240,000 (roughly 50,000 USD) awarded in compensation and out-of-court settlements in 2009. However only a handful of the 250 affected workers have been compensated.
The struggle has now gone on for more than six years. Globalisation Monitor has published the workers’ story in a 196-page book, No Choice But to Fight. You can order a printed paperback copy on their website or you can view the complete 189-page PDF by clicking the cover image at right.