A Chinese factory worker helping build iPhones has died suddenly after working excessive overtime hours, according to the Daily Mail. The report comes just months after Apple defended business practises in its Asian supply chain, following an exposé by the BBC.
Tian Fulei, 26, worked at a factory owned by Pegatron, one of Apple’s Chinese hardware suppliers.
Tian was found dead in shared worker accommodation in February. His family blame working conditions for his death, saying that he was previously “healthy,” and had planned on getting married. Pegatron gave Tian’s family 80,000 Yuan (£8,300) as a “gesture.”
The Daily Mail reports that a court ruled it was “‘sudden death’… but no autopsy was carried out,” as the family couldn’t afford one.
The BBC documentary showed employees falling asleep at their posts after working 12 hour shifts and overcrowded living spaces.
Apple responded at the time that it is “deeply offended” by the claims, is “improving working conditions,” and that in 2014, its suppliers “achieved an average of 93% compliance with our 60-hour [working] limit.” The company said it “will not rest until every person in our supply chin is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Pegatron also said that it “planned to investigate the claims,” and that “worker safety is its top priority.”
Since then, however, labour rights group China Labour Watch (CLW) claimed that Apple is “unable to effectively monitor standards across some of its supply chain.”
Apple has previously been criticised over the conditions in the factories of its other Chinese supplier, Foxconn. There was a a spate of suicides by workers there in 2010 and 2011. Before killing himself, one worker wrote in a poem that “They have trained me to become docile / Don’t know how to shout or rebel / How to complain or denounce / Only how to silently suffer exhaustion.”
In another, the worker wrote that “Even the machine is nodding off/ Sealed workshops store diseased iron/ Wages concealed behind curtains/ Like the love that young workers bury at the bottom of their hearts.”
Apple told the Daily Mail it would investigate, but “refused to comment directly” on the Tian’s death. Pegatron provided the following statement:
Worker safety and well-being are our top priorities, and we work hard to make sure every Pegatron facility provides a healthy work environment for our workers. We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tian Fulei who worked with us as a visual inspector on the assembly line in our Shanghai facility.
‘We investigated the circumstances of this case immediately, finding no link to the work environment. We provided support and assistance to the Tian family and our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.
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