An independent team of medical experts that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) sent last month to investigate the deaths of several workers at one of Pegatron’s factories has found that their deaths were unrelated to their factory work, reports Reuters. As reported by non-profit organization China Labor Watch earlier this week, a 15-year-old employee died of pneumonia on October 9 after passing a pre-employment physical examination on September 4.
“Last month, we sent independent medical experts from the U.S. and China to conduct an investigation of the (Pegatron) factory,” said Apple in a statement via Reuters. “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 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.”
Pegatron’s Shanghai-based factory primarily makes smartphones and tablets for Apple, including the iPhone 5C, noted China Labor Watch’s report. According to Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct, “the minimum age for employment or work shall be 15 years of age.” However, juvenile workers are not permitted to “perform work likely to jeopardize their health, safety, or morals.”
Pegatron spokesperson Charles Lin noted that the 15-year-old employee had used a relative’s identification in order to obtain the job, reports Reuters. Lin also noted that all of the recent employee deaths were caused by various medical conditions that were unrelated to the employees’ work at the factory. “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,” stated Pegatron in a statement via Bloomberg. “We have an excellent track record of compliance with laws aimed at preventing underage labor.”
Apple joined the Fair Labor Association in 2012 and implemented a compliance-monitoring program after several well-publicized suicides at factories run by Apple supplier Foxconn in 2010. Another Apple supplier faced allegations of labor violations earlier this year. As reported by AllThingsD, Apple sent a team in September to investigate allegations of excessive hours, unpaid overtime, discriminatory hiring practices, and inadequate safety training at a Jabil Circuit (NYSE:JBL) factory in China.
As noted by Bloomberg, CEO Tim Cook has previously stated that improving working conditions in the company’s supply chain is a priority for Apple. As stated in Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct, violations of the code “may result in immediate termination as an Apple Supplier and in legal action.”
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