“Last September, a young Chinese laborer named Shi Zhaokun began working long hours at a huge manufacturing plant here that produces Apple’s new iPhone 5C,” David Barboza reports for The New York Times. “But on Oct. 9, Mr. Shi was unable to make it to work and checked into a hospital, his family says. Soon after, he was pronounced dead of pneumonia. Although his identification papers said he was 20, Mr. Shi was in fact just 15. In China, he was too young to legally work on a factory floor.”
“The Pegatron Corporation, the Taiwanese manufacturer that employed him, said the workplace environment at the Shanghai plant was not the cause of his illness,” Barboza reports. “But a spokeswoman acknowledged that several other young workers at the factory had also died in the past few months.”
“Labor rights activists say Pegatron has failed to explain at least five deaths of young workers in recent months. They say workers interviewed by China Labor Watch, a nonprofit group that monitors working conditions in China, have complained about long working hours and harsh working conditions at Pegatron, including some of the same pressures that in previous years led to health and safety problems at Foxconn Technology, Apple’s biggest contract supplier in China,” Barboza reports. “While Pegatron says it strictly forbids its factories from hiring workers under 16, the legal working age in China, Mr. Shi was able to work using a falsified identity card. In his only month at Pegatron, he worked nearly 280 hours, often 12 hours a day, six days a week, according to work documents his family kept.”
“Pegatron said that the work logs the family kept are records of when the young man clocked in and out, and may not include breaks. The company said his hours did not exceed the legal limit,” Barboza reports. “‘This is not related to the workplace environment,’ Ming Tsai, a Pegatron spokeswoman, said Tuesday, referring to the young man’s death… The company spokeswoman said that Pegatron was deeply distraught by the deaths of the workers but that an investigation of the working conditions in the Shanghai factory found nothing unusual, no toxic chemicals or other hazards.”
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