Apple supplier accused of violating worker rights

29 July 2013

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30 July 2013 | Adam Leach

A key supplier to Apple has been accused of violating the rights of its workers, including insufficient training and underage labour.

An investigation carried out by campaign group China Labor Watch (CLW) into three Chinese factories operated by Pegatron, which produces computers and parts for the iPhone, accused the company of 86 separate labour violations, 36 legal and 50 ethical.

Allegations in the report Apple's Unkept Promises, claimed a series of commitments made by Apple to root out worker violations from the supply chain were broken.

One of the Apple pledges was to ensure working weeks for individuals in its extended workforce would be limited to 60 hours. But the CLW investigation, which was carried out undercover, found in some instances pregnant women were working 11 hour days, six days a week. CLW also reported a number of underage workers at two of the company’s factories, staff being harassed by management and a lack of “effective grievance channels” for staff to raise concerns.

Li Qiang, executive director at CLW, said: “Apple has not lived up to its own standards. This will lead to Apple’s suppliers abusing labour in order to strengthen their position for receiving orders. In this way, Apple is worsening conditions for workers.”

A statement from Apple explained the report had brought new claims to light and it would be sending its own teams to carry out a thorough investigation.

“Apple believes in transparency and accountability, both for our suppliers and ourselves. We realise being a leader in workers rights and being transparent with our findings opens us to criticism, but we believe strongly that we can make a big difference in the lives of millions of people by doing so and this provides us the courage and resilience to continue the journey,” the company added.

Pegatron CEO Jason Cheng said in a statement: “We take these allegations very seriously. We will investigate them fully and take immediate actions to correct any violations to Chinese labor laws and our own code of conduct. In addition to working closely with our customers in meeting their codes of conduct, Pegatron sets very high standards for ourselves with our own dedicated team that audits and investigates issues.” 

Last year, Apple pledged to “dig deep” into worker rights issues within its supply chain after accusations another of its suppliers was not complying with worker rights regulations in China. Consequently, the technology firm signed up the Fair Labor Association to act as an independent auditor of its suppliers. It pledged to take action to resolve any issues discovered.

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