New Labor Practice Claims Against Apple Supplier Pegatron
July 29, 2013

New Labor Practice Claims Against Apple Supplier Pegatron

Michael Harper for – Your Universe Online

Workers-rights organization China Labor Watch has issued a new report claiming Pegatron, one of Apple’s suppliers, has been breaking labor laws. The report released today claims Pegatron withholds pay and proper identification cards from employees, forces them to work excessive overtime hours and employs minors, each of which practices are violations of Chinese law and Apple’s supplier regulations. Apple has responded to the new report and reiterated their commitment to promoting “safe and fair working conditions” in their supply chain. Apple has worked with China Labor Watch in the past but says the latest claims are new to them and will be investigated. Pegatron’s chief executive Jason Cheng has also said in a statement that his company will look into the instances listed in the report. “We will investigate [the allegations] fully and take immediate actions to correct any violations to Chinese labor laws and our own code of conduct,” said Cheng.

China Labor Watch said it had investigated three Pegatron factories, one in Suzhou and two in Shanghai. While there, the auditors said they found instances of discrimination against minorities and women as well as poor living conditions, numerous health and safety issues and pollution. One claim, that Apple was able to confirm in their response, involved an account that some Pegatron workers were not given appropriate identification cards. Another worker interviewed for the China Labor Watch report claimed she would have quit Pegatron, but was worried she’d face fines from her recruiter. According to the Wall Street Journal, recruiting firms in China will take pay from an employee they’ve hired if they do not work for a certain period of time. This woman, called Ms. Zhu in the report, says she’ll quit the plant, where she works on iPhones, after three months. She’ll be free from the threat of fines by that point, though it’s also likely she’ll be responsible for cranking out the new and rumored cheap iPhone during this time.

According to AppleInsider, the report claims Pegatron factories are responsible for building the low cost iPhones, in addition to the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5. Though Apple has yet to make any announcements on the availability of this inexpensive phone or even its existence, they’re largely expected to release new devices in the next three months.

“We have been in close contact with China Labor Watch for several months, investigating issues they’ve raised and sharing our findings,” said Apple in a statement today regarding the new reports.

“When they first told us that workers’ ID cards were being withheld, an auditor from our Supplier Responsibility program was on site the next day to investigate.”

Ms. Zhu’s story is similar to complaints about labor conditions in the Foxconn factories in the days and weeks before the iPhone 5 release last September. State-run media outlets claimed last year that students were being held against their will in Foxconn factories to help the company meet the demand for Apple’s latest smartphone. The Cupertino company has recently moved some of their production to Pegatron.

Apple and their suppliers have come under fire after advocacy groups released several reports of unfair and unsafe labor practices in Chinese factories. The heavy scrutiny began after it was revealed that over ten Foxconn factory workers killed themselves in 2010.