Apple is facing renewed criticism of its partnerships with Chinese suppliers after a report by the US-based China Labor Watch (CLW) slammed Pegatron as ‘worse than Foxconn’ due to the treatment suffered by its 70,000-strong workforce.
Pegatron is a key firm in Apple’s supply chain, and was investigated by the CLW between March and July. These inspections took place at three factories in China, based in both Shanghai and Suzhou.
In total, it found 86 working issues covering a multitude of issues. These included underage workers, excessive working hours, women’s rights violations and insufficient wages. Abuse by management and environmental pollution were also cited as key concerns.
The report said: "At Pegatron, over 10,000 underage and student workers (interns), from 16 to 20 years of age, work in crowded production rooms, doing the same work as formal, adult workers. But some students are paid lower wages because schools deduct fees for the internship, while other students will not have their wages paid to them on time."
The CLW said such abuses undermined Apple’s prior claims it was meeting its own corporate social responsibility goals and that it still has a long way to go to ensure the firms it partners with are ethically run and managed.
CLW executive director Li Qiang said: “Our investigations have shown that labor conditions at Pegatron factories are even worse than those at Foxconn factories. 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, not improving them.”
In response Apple issued a robust statement, claiming it would react immediately to the claims, with audits taking place at the factories this week.
“Their [CLW’s] latest report contains claims that are new to us and we will investigate them immediately. Our audit teams will return to Pegatron for special inspections this week,” Apple said.
“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.
“We will investigate these new claims thoroughly, ensure that corrective actions are taken where needed and report any violations of our code of conduct. We will not tolerate deviations from our code.”
The concerns raised by CLW will cause more headaches for Apple, which has faced years of criticism over conditions at Foxconn, where worker suicides and riots have taken place.
A video of the investigation by the CLW, including footage from inside the factories, can be watched below.
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