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Apple faces China worker abuse claims

world Updated: Jul 30, 2013 03:35 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A Taiwanese company making products for Apple is violating labour laws including forcing overtime on workers, employing minors, handing out poor pay and exposing employees to management abuse, the US-based China Labour Watch (CLW) said on Monday.

The rights group claimed that investigations had revealed that at least 86 different labour rights were being violated in three companies of the Pegatron Group in Shanghai, Riteng and Suzhou where iPads and iPhones are assembled.

“CLW’s investigations revealed at least 86 labor rights violations, including 36 legal violations and 50 ethical violations,” the group said in an emailed statement.

The violations fall into 15 categories including hiring discrimination, women’s rights violations, contract violations, insufficient worker training, excessive working hours, insufficient wages, poor working and living conditions and difficulty in taking leave among others.

“In short, the Pegatron factories are violating a great number of international and Chinese laws and standards as well as the standards of Apple’s own social responsibility code of conduct,” the CLW statement said.

Between March and July this year, CLW’s undercover investigators interviewed more than 200 employees outside three Pegatron factories. The factories included Pegatron Shanghai (producing the iPhone), Riteng (a Pegatron subsidiary in Shanghai producing Apple computers), and AVY (a Pegatron subsidiary in Suzhou producing iPad parts).

Together, they employ more than 70000 workers.

Responding to the allegations, Apple said in a statement that it had conducted 15 audits at Pegatron facilities since 2007 that covered more than 130,000 workers to ensure safe and fair working conditions throughout its supply chain.

“Their latest report contains claims that are new to us and we will investigate them immediately,” 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.”

Pegatron, according to agencies, said in a statement that it would investigate the matter and would take immediate action to correct any violations of Chinese labour laws and its own code of conduct

Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, also criticised by labor groups including CLW for poor working conditions, now makes most of Apple's top products through its flagship unit, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd.