Apple and its Asian supplier Pegatron, which manufactures the iPhone 5c, have come under heavy fire this week following the unexplained deaths of at least five factory workers. Even worse is that one of them, a boy, was just 15 years old.
It’s since been determined that the teenager used forged identity documents saying he was 20 years old to get the job. And today, Apple gave an official statement on the incident, saying it has sent independent medical experts to investigate…
Reuters has the statement from Apple:
“Last month, we sent independent medical experts from the U.S. and China to conduct an investigation of the (Pegatron) factory,” Apple said in a statement on Thursday. “While they have 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 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.”
Apple’s team of experts found that the boy died of pneumonia, and not because of something related to working conditions. The company did not comment, though, on the other [at least 4] deaths of workers employed at plants owned by Pegatron.
Pegatron also gave the outlet a statement:
“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.”
Apple has been the target of the China Labor Watch and several other labor rights groups over the past several years due to the working conditions inside the factories of its suppliers, which have been accused of child labor and other violations.
Pegatron in particular has been in the spotlight in recent months. Back in July, the New York-based China Labor Watch held an investigation and counted 86 labor rights violations in three manufacturing facilities operated by the manufacturer.
Apple, for its part, has begun monitoring its supply chain partners more closely in recent years—especially their working hours. Employees aren’t supposed to work more than 60 hours per week, and Apple says it has over a 90% compliance rate.