Death of Underage Worker Sparks More Accusations of Labor Violations at Pegatron [Updated]

pegatron_logoChinese labor rights group China Labor Watch (CLW) is calling for answers from primary Apple supplier Pegatron after the death of five young workers in recent months, highlighted by the passing of a fifteen year old factory worker due to pneumonia related causes in October, reports The New York Times. The laborer, Shi Zhaokun, was able to secure a job at a Pegatron factory producing the iPhone 5c by presenting a fake ID stating that he was 20, reportedly working a total of 280 hours in his only month at the company.

Apple’s supplier responsibility statement bars employees of supplier companies in China from working more than 60 hours a week; so does Chinese law. But Mr. Shi worked 79 hours in his first week, 77 in his second and 75 in his third, all apparently in violation of the law, according to documents provided by his family.

Pegatron said that the work logs the family kept are records of when the young man clocked in and out, and may not include breaks. The company said his hours did not exceed the legal limit.

A Pegatron spokeswoman said that the death of the worker was “not related to the workplace environment“, while Apple has not officially commented on the incident. In July, China Labor Group alleged numerous safety and workplace violations at Pegatron, including the unethical holding of worker pay and identification cards, as well as poor living conditions within the factory including tight living quarters and packed cafeterias. Apple replied to the allegations, confirming various labor violations and vowing to investigate the incident.

Recently, Hong Kong-based Apple supplier Biel Crystal was also accused of workers rights violations, with a nonprofit watchdog labor group stating that the company made employees work forced 11-hour shifts without adequate compensation for injuries sustained on the job.

Apple announced in July that it was forming an academic advisory board for its Supplier Responsibility program, saying that it wanted to ensure "safe and ethical working conditions wherever its products are made." Apple has also published Supplier Responsibility Progress Reports every year since 2007, tracking the ethical progress of its suppliers in order to bring transparency to its product manufacturing process.

Update: Reuters reports that Apple sent a medical team to the Pegatron facility last month, determining that the worker's death was not related to working conditions.

"Last month we sent independent medical experts from the U.S. and China to conduct an investigation of the (Pegatron) factory. While they have found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones," Apple said in a statement on Thursday.

"Apple has a long-standing commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for every worker in our supply chain, and we have a team working with Pegatron at their facility to ensure that conditions meet our high standards."

Top Rated Comments

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85 months ago

Dear MacRumors,

Please bring back the downvote button.

How do you disagree with that? You're saying that a company should be charged with violation of child labor laws when they hired what they presumed to be an adult? Why did they think he was an adult? Oh, he had a fake ID saying he was 20. This kid clearly wanted to work there.

The down vote button is a dumb way to show your dissatisfaction for a comment without having the ability to provide any reason why.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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85 months ago

If this broke adult labor laws then punish the company.

If he broke some kind of child labor laws, its not the companies fault. The idiot kid gave a fake id and that should not factor into anything.

Dear MacRumors,

Please bring back the downvote button.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
85 months ago

Sigh, can we stop with the jokes or defending this because it's related to Apple. A 15 year old kid died because proper safeguards weren't in place.

This has nothing to do with Apple. Look at my post history, I bash Apple daily. I would hold the same view if this was Microsoft, Google, e.g.

You people act like this kid was not in control of his situation when he knew full well what he was getting into from the very beginning when he dishonestly obtained the job. He continued to work even when he was sick, despite the fact he could have left at any time.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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85 months ago

Dear MacRumors,

Please bring back the downvote button.

Then I suggest you head over to reddit, this is for the adults.

In all seriousness, care to elaborate why you disagree? The company should be punished if it broke labor laws but he should NOT be considered a 'minor' considering he gave a fake ID. Oh, and his employment was voluntary.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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85 months ago
Just a couple of points, from a medical standpoint.

Working long hours doesn't cause pneumonia. If it did, those of us in the medical field would never survive our training, which recently has been limited to 80 hours/week but prior to that was routinely over 100 hours a week, in an environment where one is exposed to lots of sick people.

This was more likely related to his social situation - poverty and its related poor diet and health care can contribute to pneumonia. He could also have had TB.

While the company bears some responsibility for not identifying an underage worker, I think it's a little ballsy for a family who sent their 15-year-old son to work in a factory to then turn around and blame someone else for their son's death. At least the company had a fake ID to fool them. The family knew how old he was and how much he was working, but felt the need to have him working long hours rather than in school where he belonged. THAT situation is what needs to be addressed much more than the company's failure to identify a fake ID.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
85 months ago
If this broke adult labor laws then punish the company.

If he broke some kind of child labor laws, its not the companies fault. The idiot kid gave a fake id and that should not factor into anything.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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