Worker deaths raise questions at an Apple contractor Pegatron in China

“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.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. This is a bad situation, yet the actions of the family, the child, and the government of China are not criticized.

    The family knew he was 15 and had a log of hours worked.

    Did the family help him get the fake ID?

    Why does “China” allow long hours with so many people that can be hired from their 1.3 billion pool?

    Why does China not enforce better accommodations for their people? Is that not the pride and point of the Communist Party… Looking out for their workers and citizens?

    Now, if anything happen with an Apple supplier, suddenly Apple is the villlian. Not the Communist party, not the child that had a fake ID, not the family that keep hours know the child was under age, and the company that failed to properly handle the accomadations for the workers. Maybe the articles should be more critical of the China.

    Like I said earlier, to is a horrible event. But, if it was in our country the media would be blaming the government of the US and the company that makes the product. Not the Chinese company that would be buyer.

    1. It’s so nice that China doesn’t have all those pesky labor and environmental regulations that US citizens fought so hard to establish here – that would be bad for our big corporations. Having a workforce living under a totalitarian regime that oppresses the freedom of its slaves and doesn’t mind polluting where they live is great for our big companies. No more unions and regulations that decrease corporate profits. No inspections or restrictions on hazardous fertilizers in our food or chemicals in our household goods. Hooray for the USA!

    1. The suicide rate in American Universities is much higher than the suicide rates in Foxconn and Pegatron factories.

      If the NYT wants another Pulitzer they only have to look in their own back yard.

  2. People die, naturally. Group enough people in a factory, some factory workers die, naturally.

    Children die, in Canada, US, China, and any European country. All nations around the world, children die, naturally. If a child dies of pneumonia or meningitis, do you blame the home or the school? I know this is not the best question, but you can not have 100% heath for everyone.

    If this child and family, lied to get a job, good or otherwise, would they also not jeopardize that job, by not “calling in” sick, or taking care of themselves?

    There’s more to this issue than is being reported and the family is playing dumb for their own sake, I suspect.

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