updated 09:46 am EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
Charges include bosses withholding pay
China Labor Watch, a New York-based workers' rights organization, is accusing Pegatron -- one of Apple's major suppliers -- of violating a number of Chinese and international laws, as well as Apple's own supplier responsibility code, according to a report seen by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. Although Pegatron is headquartered in Taiwan, it has a heavy presence in mainland China. The CLW says that between March and July it probed three factories, based in Shanghai and Suzhou, using undercover investigators and interviews with almost 200 workers. The interviews were conducted outside of the factories.
Pegatron workers are being forced to work unpaid and/or excessive hours in terrible factory and living conditions, the CLW states. In response, Pegatron has issued a statement claiming it will investigate the situation itself and take steps to correct any abuses. "We strive to make each day at Pegatron better than the last for our employees. They are the heart of our business. That's why we take these allegations very seriously," claims Pegatron CEO Jason Cheng in the statement.
Apple has also offered a statement, insisting that it has done 15 audits of Pegatron factories since 2007, documenting over 130,000 workers. The company says it has also been in talks with China Labor Watch for several months, and fixed some of the concerns raised. "Their latest report contains claims that are new to us and we will investigate them immediately," Apple PR adds. "If our audits find that workers have been underpaid or denied compensation for any time they've worked, we will require that Pegatron reimburse them in full."
The CLW observes that worksheets often showed people working over the 60-hours-per-week limit established by Apple. In some cases, management was withholding pay for short shifts. Apple tells the WSJ that it knew some labor brokers were withholding worker ID cards, and asked Pegatron to solve the issue. The CLW has additionally accused Pegatron of dumping metal-cutting liquids into local sewers however, a violation of pollution standards.
The manufacturer is believed to be gaining more prominence in Apple's supply chain. Although Apple has traditionally depended on Foxconn to assemble most of its products, Pegatron is expected to take on production of the rumored low-cost iPhone. To that end, one report in May claimed that the company is hiring an extra 40,000 people.