A 15-year-old has died of pneumonia after working for one month in Pegatron, a Taiwanese manufacturing company that produces the iPhone 5 in the mainland. The boy, named Shi Zhaokun, worked “often 12 hours a day, six days a week” during his month at Pegatron.
Pegatron denies that the boy’s death was related to his work schedule, but Li Qiang head of China Labor Watch told the New York Times that Shi was not alone and, “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.”
Apple’s former go-to manufacturer, Foxconn, produced as many scandals as it did iPhones, and led to Apple diversifying its Chinese manufacturing base (although Foxconn is still intimately involved). It looks as though Pegatron isn’t off to a fine start. The full New York Times article (here) is worth a read, but the key points are:
Oct. 9, Mr. Shi was unable to make it to work and checked into a hospital, his family says. Soon after, he was pronounced dead of pneumonia. Although his identification papers said he was 20, Mr. Shi was in fact just 15. In China, he was too young to legally work on a factory floor. […]
Labor rights activists say Pegatron has failed to explain at least five deaths of young workers in recent months. They say workers interviewed by China Labor Watch, a nonprofit group that monitors working conditions in China, have complained about long working hours and harsh working conditions at Pegatron, including some of the same pressures that in previous years led to health and safety problems at Foxconn Technology, Apple’s biggest contract supplier in China. […]
Apple’s supplier responsibility statement bars employees of supplier companies in China from working more than 60 hours a week; so does Chinese law. But Mr. Shi worked 79 hours in his first week, 77 in his second and 75 in his third, all apparently in violation of the law, according to documents provided by his family. […]
“This is not related to the workplace environment,” Ming Tsai, a Pegatron spokeswoman, said Tuesday, referring to the young man’s death.
If the past is any guide (see: the 14-year-old who died in an Asus factory over the summer) we can expect Pegatron to hustle together a bargain-basket settlement case, maybe suspend a supervisor, but do its damnedest to continue business as usual.