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