Another worker group in China is claiming that Apple factory workers are being abused, but this time it’s not a Foxconn facility that’s responsible, but one owned by Taiwan’s Pgatron Corp and two of its subsidiary companies.
Some of the alleged mistreatment of workers, includes violations of health and safety code, the withholding of worker pay, restriction of access to ID cards that would allow workers to quit and get work elsewhere and horrific living conditions.
Apple and Pegatron had publicly condemned the violations, promising to look into any breaches in working condition legislation. An Apple spokesperson said the company was: “committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout its supply chain.” Pegatron CEO Jason Cheng also said it would “investigate [the allegations] fully and take immediate actions to correct any violations to Chinese labour laws and our own code of conduct.”
Apple has investigated Pegatron in the past, though not for any specific violations, conducting 15 audits since 2007, several of which took place in the past year and a half.
There’s also been reports that those not completing their contracts with Pegatron are being fleeced for some of their wages by recruiting agencies, though again, Pegatron is pledging to investigate.
However it’s Pegatron’s subsidiaries that could be in more trouble than the parent. Two of the ones located in Suzhou and Shanghai have also been highlighted by the worker’s advocacy group as guilty of dumping metal-cutting fluid into sewer systems, something it has been fined for before. According to the WSJ breakdown, back in February those same subsidiaries were forced to pay out for dumping motor oil into a local water supply.
Those chemicals weren’t just harmful to the local rivers though, but also the workers handling them. The report suggests that workers handling the toxic chemicals were often forced to use only knit gloves, which soaked up the harmful materials instead of warding them off.
KitGuru Says: This is the trade off people. We want cheap electronics, but the parts of the world known for their labour law violations are the only ones that can afford to build them for us at the price we want. Apple is a bad one, but it’s impossible to buy a smartphone that doesn’t involve horrible labour practices at some point, whether it’s in the manufacturing stage, or in the mining stage where rare minerals are dug up by warlords in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
That’s why efforts like Fairphone need to be supported.