Apple Investigates Death Of 15-Year-Old Worker At iPhone 5c Factory


Yesterday we reported on the tragic death of a 15-year-old worker at a Shanghai factory belonging to Pegatron — the Taiwanese manufacturing firm who produce the iPhone 5c and iPad mini.

At the time the story was written, Apple hadn’t responded to the reports — or to requests from the New York-based China Labor Watch asking the company to take a closer look at working conditions at its supplier.

Since then, Apple has given its answer: noting that it sent independent medical experts to conduct an investigation at the factory last month.

“While they found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones,” Apple said in a statement.

“Apple has a long-standing commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for every worker in our supply chain, and we have a team working with Pegatron at their facility to ensure that conditions meet our high standards,” the company continued.

This is another example of Apple responding to criticisms made concerning the conditions under which its products are made — largely prompted by the employee suicides at supplier Foxconn in 2010.

Last year Apple commissioned the Fair Labor Association to investigate the factories run by its suppliers.

Pegatron, meanwhile, has issued a statement noting that it was not aware that 15-year-old Shi Zhaokun was underage until after his death (Chinese labor laws prohibit factories from hiring workers under the age of 16).

“Pegatron has strict measures in place to verify workers’ ages before and after they are hired, and we work with health and safety experts to provide a safe working environment for each and every worker,” company spokesperson Charles Lin said.

Lin also noted that three other employee deaths this year — in March and April respectively — were the result of medical conditions unrelated to work at the factory.

“We have an excellent track record of compliance with laws aimed at preventing underage labour,” Lin said.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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