Boy, 15, Is One Of 5 Unexplained Deaths At Apple's Factories In China

Apple worker chinaAppleOne of Apple’s China suppliers.

A 15-year-old boy dropped
dead at Apple’s Pegatron factory in China, where the iPhone 5C is made. His death was one of five at Pegatron that labour activists say the company has failed to explain.

The boy, Shi Zhaokun, died of pneumonia shortly after Oct. 9. He had been working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, according to activists from China Labour Watch, a workers’ rights organisation that performs undercover investigations at Chinese electronics manufacturing plants.

In a statement to the New York Times, Apple said:

While they have found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realise that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones. Apple has a long-standing commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for every worker in our supply chain, and we have a team working with Pegatron at their facility to ensure that conditions meet our high standards.

Apple has made efforts to prevent labour abuses at its Chinese suppliers, and subjects those factories to regular audits and inspections. Part of the problem is that there is high demand for jobs at Apple’s factories. In September, there was a riot at Foxconn, another Apple supplier, between different groups of workers — about 200 in all — protecting their turf. The legal age for working in China is 16. Shi was carrying forged papers claiming he was 20.

Labour conditions aren’t great at suppliers for Samsung or Asus, either — but Apple workers get all the publicity.

Pegatron has offered Shi’s family the equivalent of $US15,000 in compensation for his death. Negotiations are ongoing.

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