Apple faces fresh labor abuse claims
Working conditions at Apple's Chinese suppliers are back on the agenda, with China Labor Watch issuing a report alleging labor violations at Pegatron Group.
The report also appears to confirm the long-rumored existence of a low-cost plastic iPhone model.
China Labor Watch said an investigation into Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron uncovered evidence of 86 labor rights violations.
Allegations include poor living conditions, low pay forcing workers into long overtime hours, and exploitation of underage and student workers.
A pregnant woman was found to be working long overtime hours, despite Chinese laws mandating an eight-hour work day for expecting mothers.
The report accuses Pegatron of violating Apple's social responsibility promises, including those related to worker safety and environmental responsibility.
In a statement, China Labor Watch executive director Li Qiang said the investigations show “that labor conditions at Pegatron factories are even worse than those at Foxconn factories.”
Li was referring to the high-profile controversy over conditions at Hon Hai subsidiary Foxconn, which drew international attention following a spate of worker suicides. A report into conditions at the time likened its plants to concentration camps. Apple and Foxconn subsequently agreed to implement a raft of reforms.
In a response sent to the Wall Street Journal, Apple said it routinely audits Pegatron facilities to gage working conditions, and has been working closely with China Labor Watch to address the issues they have raised.
“Their latest report contains claims that are new to us and we will investigate them immediately. Our audit teams will return to Pegatron, RiTeng and AVY for special inspections this week,” the statement reads.
The report has also attracted attention for the fact that it makes repeated reference to a cheap iPhone that is being prepared for mass production.
Apple has long been rumoed to be planning a low-cost iPhone to allow it to better compete with budget Android models, and its existence has been supported by alleged leaked photos and other evidence. But so far, Apple has not officially announced it.