Chinese Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) manufacturer Pegatron has seen several of its young factory employees die in recent months, leading to the discovery of evidence that the company is forcing its employees to work long hours against Chinese law and Apple’s rules, according to a report from The New York Times.
The Times highlighted the story of a 15-year-old factory employee named Shi Zhaokun, who was too young to legally work for Pegatron but had gotten in on falsified documents. After working 12-hour days six days a week helping produce the iPhone 5C, Zhaokun contracted pneumonia and died at the end of October.
A spokeswoman from Pegatron who spoke to the newspaper said that Zhaokun’s death was not related to conditions at the factory but also acknowledged that several other young employees at the same factory in Shanghai have died in the past few months.
Activist group China Labor Watch claims that Pegatron has failed to explain five employee deaths in recent months. The group says that workers at the Pegatron factory in Shanghai have complained about long hours and harsh working conditions.
“Considering the sudden deaths of five people and the similar reason of the deaths, we believe there should be some relations between the tragedy and the working conditions in the factory,” Li Qiang, who runs China Labor Watch, said to The New York Times.
Unfortunately, Apple is no stranger to these kinds of complaints about its Chinese suppliers. Suicides at Apple supplier Foxconn in particular have brought negative attention to the company. In May, three employees at Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou jumped off buildings to their deaths in three separate incidents, which China Labor Watch believed may have been caused by working conditions at the factory. These incidents came after 13 different suicides at Foxconn occurred in 2010.
After the 2010 incidents, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association and has worked to force improvements at the factories of its Chinese suppliers. But the questionable conditions at Pegatron’s factory in Shanghai show that Apple still needs to be vigilant about the working conditions in its suppliers’ factories.
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