Yesterday a report by China Labor Watch (CLW) accused Apple and the making of its products as the cause of recent deaths at a Pegatron factory in Shanghai recently, with one case being a 15 year old worker.
According to Reuters, Apple sent a team of medical experts to Pegatron’s Shanghai factory last month after reports of the 15 year old’s death by pneumonia occurred. Apple released the following statement:
“While they (Pegatron) 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 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.”
As for the assembly line employee, Pegatron spokesman Charles Lin said the 15 year old used his 21 year old cousin’s ID to apply for the job, so the factory did not know he was underage. Pegatron, along with Apple concluded working conditions were not related to the death, noting the employee had only recently started and the assembly line conditions would not cause a disease like pneumonia.
Despite the 15 year old slipping through Pegatron’s screening measures, the company issued a statement reiterating its strict policies for preventing underage labour:
“Pegatron has strict measures in place to verify workers’ ages before and after they are hired, and we work with health and safety experts to provide a safe working environment for each and every worker,”
“We have an excellent track record of compliance with laws aimed at preventing underage labour.”
The Wall Street Journal similarly reports Pegatron has been working hard to improve its working conditions for employees working to make Apple products. Its labour force in Shanghai doubled to over 100,000 as production increased this year, which led to cramped living conditions per dorm room.
The company has built four new dormitories to ease the crunch, as numbers of worker per room has dropped from 10-12 to 8-10. Some workers had to live off campus which resulted in a further commute due to the housing shortage but moved back after new dorms were completed.
Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told the WSJ the company has a team working with Pegatron to ensure factory standards meet Cupertino’s high standards. Pegatron has said it is investigating letting more robots complete basic tasks to further automate the process.
Apple’s most recent Supplier Work Hour Compliance chart stated suppliers had achieved an average of 95% compliance to a 60-hour work week. The company annually releases its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report to bring transparency on how it is helping to improve working conditions at supplier factories.