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July 30, 2013

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Apple supplier under fire over conditions

Employees at an Apple supplier are being forced to work unpaid overtime and endure poor working and living conditions at factories in Shanghai and Suzhou, New York-based China Labor Watch said yesterday.

Pegatron Corp, a Taiwan-based company assembling iPhones and iPads, was also “violating a great number of international and Chinese laws and standards as well as Apple’s own code of conduct,” its report said.

Pegatron workers regularly exceeded Apple’s limit of a 60-hour working week, the report said, adding that the working environment was poor and living accommodation inadequate.

The company’s factory in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area assembles a third of the world’s iPhones and iPads, according to industry insiders.

China Labor Watch said it sent undercover investigators to three Pegatron factories and conducted nearly 200 interviews with workers outside the factories from March to July.

Pegatron had increased its production of Apple’s products as part of the US company’s plans to diversify its contract manufacturing partners rather than depend solely on Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group.

Foxconn came under fire after more than 10 employees committed suicide. Subsequently, Apple and Foxconn raised salaries and improved working conditions.

At Pegatron-owned subsidiaries in Shanghai and in the neighboring city of Suzhou, metal-cutting fluids were dumped directly into the sewer systems, according to the report.

Pegatron issued a statement saying it would investigate the allegations and take immediate action to correct any violations.

Apple said it had conducted 15 comprehensive audits at Pegatron facilities since 2007, covering more than 130,000 workers.

According to Apple’s survey in June, Pegatron employees making Apple products only worked an average of 46 hours per week.

“Apple is committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain. We lead the industry with far-reaching and specialized audits, the most transparent reporting and educational programs that enrich the lives of workers,” Apple China said.

A Pegatron factory in Shanghai which makes cases for Apple products is facing the “harshest penalty” for discharging waste which polluted a river.

Residents in Songjiang District’s Chedun Town had long been plagued by the stinky “river of milk” which ran across the district’s industrial park and into their neighborhoods. The Tielu river earned its new name after it turned milky white and started to smell last year.

Residents said they were concerned about food safety as many farmers grew vegetables next to the river, using its water to irrigate their crops.


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