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Underage worker’s death raises question for Apple

A 15 year-old worker dies at factory contracted by Apple

12·12·2013

In Shanghai, a factory worker for the company Pegatron Corporation has died of pneumonia, just a month after starting work at the factory. Shi Zhaokun began at the factory in September, but fell in and checked into a hospital on October 9. He later died of the disease.

Upon his death, it was discovered that despite having papers that stated he was 20 years-old, Shi was actually 15. Which meant he was illegally working in the factory. Pegatron has denied a link between his death and his employment in the factory. However, they did acknowledge that several other young workers have died whilst in the employment of the factory. Apple has declined to comment on the incident. However, in the past Apple, the company that Pegatron is contracted by to make the iPhone 5c, has worked to improve the conditions of its contractor factories.

The company offered 90,000 RMB to Shi’s family, but the family refuses to accept the issue as closed. They believe that something went wrong as Shi was able to pass the pre-employment screening process. The family possess documents from Shi that show how he worked 280 hours in his first month, which would violate labor laws in China.  Pegatron disputes the overtime claims, saying that the records are misleading.

This is not the first time Pegatron has come under fire regarding the treatment of its employees. In late July, China Labor Watch released a report claiming that Pegatron was violating Chinese laws and Apple’s own code of conduct. Among other things, the group said that Pegatron was forcing employees to work unpaid overtime. Executives said they were talking the claims seriously.  However, the death of Shi raises concerns about how seriously they took such claims.

Images courtesy of Robert Scoble.

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