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. 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.
Pegatron says that the workplace environment at its Shanghai plant was not the cause of his illness; however, a spokesperson did acknowledge that several other young workers had died in the past few months.
Workers interviewed by the China Labor Watch have complained about long working hours and harsh working conditions, some of the same pressures that led to health and safety issues at Foxconn.
“Considering the sudden deaths of five people and the similar reason of the deaths, we believe there should be some relations between the tragedy and the working conditions in the factory,” said Li Qiang, who runs China Labor Watch.
Pegatron tried to resolve the case of Shi Zhaokun by paying his family 90,000 renminbi, ($15,000), according to his uncle, Yang Sen. However, Mr. Yang insists that the matter is still not resolved. He believes something went wrong at the Pegatron workplace since on September 4th, his nephew passed a physical and was declared healthy.
Apple declined to comment on the situation.
In July, China Labor Watch released an extensive report on poor working conditions at Pegatron. You can find that report here.