Scrutiny of alleged labor violations by Apple’s contract manufacturers increases as an underage worker at Pegatron’s iPhone 5C factory dies.

pegatron office Underage worker at Pegatrons iPhone 5C factory dies, concerns about Apples contractors in China rise

Apple’s contract manufacturers have long been accused of labor violations in China, though the company has spent a lot of time and resources on auditing its partners. It has also introduced new safety measures, as well as supported restrictions on working hours and higher wages. Despite that, there have been multiple reports of alleged labor violations over the past few months alone. China Labor Watch alleges that Pegatron has not been able to explain five deaths, the most recent being of 15 year old Shi Zhaokun, who died in October. Pegatron says that the environment at its Shanghai plant, where iPhone 5C units are manufactured, isn’t the cause of his death, however a spokesman for the company did confirm that several other young workers have died in the past few months as well.

Li Qiang, who runs the non-profit organization, believes that “there should be some relations between the tragedy and the working conditions in the factory.” Pegatron reiterates that it doesn’t hire underage workers, as per Chinese law, the legal working age stands at 16 years. however Zhaokun used a fake ID to get a job at the company, where according to work records kept by his family, he worked six days a week, putting in roughly 12 hours every day. Apple’s supplier responsibility statement clearly states that its manufacturing partners’ employees should not work more than 60 hours per week, but documents provided by the family reveal he worked 79 hours in the first week, 77 in the second and 75 in the third. His family kept records of when he clocked in and out, and say that the times might not include breaks. On the other hand, Pegatron says that the hours do not exceed the legal limit.

China Labor Watch has previously alleged that Pegatron was forcing its workers to work overtime without any additional pay, it is also alleged to have violated Chinese laws and Apple’s social responsibility code of conduct. Apple hasn’t commented on these deaths, whereas Pegatron says that while its distraught by the tragic deaths, its investigation of the Shanghai facility didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary. According to Zhaokun’s uncle, Pegatron tried to resolve this matter by paying his family a 90,000 yuan compensation, which roughly amounts to US$16,000.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald