Apple supplier Pegatron charged with overworking employees

Workers at Pegatron Shanghai work more than the maximum weekly hours fixed by Apple

Workers at the Shanghai operation of Apple supplier Pegatron work more than the maximum 60 hours a week stipulated by the iPhone maker, simply because their  wages require them to work more to make ends meet, a labor group said in a report.

The employees work more than 10 hours a day for 6 days a week, and over 83 percent of these workers clock monthly overtime hours in excess of 80 hours, according to China Labor Watch. In October last year, the average weekly working hours of over 70 percent of workers was above the limit set by Apple, it added.

The workers still earn a minimum wage and depend on overtime to make ends meet, said Li Qiang, CLW’s founder and executive director, in an email Wednesday.

Pegatron Shanghai has 70,000 employees. The report is based mainly on the analysis of data from 1,261 payment stubs collected mostly for the months of September and October last year, described as the busy season for iPhone production at Pegatron.  Workers at the factory are said to be paid US$1.82 an hour, and the overtime pay as a percentage of workers’ gross wages is as high as 42.4 percent.

Chinese labor law mandates that monthly overtime hours should not not exceed 36 hours, but at Pegatron Shanghai, the overtime hours of only 1.1 percent of workers are within this limit, according to CLW.

“The discrepancies in Apple's claimed working conditions and actual working conditions are important not only because they highlight problems in Apple's monitoring,” according to the report. “The findings also clarify that despite being the most profitable company in history, Apple does not raise the bar to a commensurate level for workers making its products.”

Apple and Pegatron could not be immediately reached for comment on the report.

Apple is currently in a heated privacy dispute with the U.S. government over a demand that it provide the FBI the tools that will allow the agency to crack by brute force the passcode of an iPhone 5c used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino, California terrorist attack on Dec. 2.

The Cupertino, California company said in its 2015 report on supplier responsibility that it had achieved 92 percent compliance with its 60-hour maximum workweek.

Apple suppliers including Pegatron have been often criticized for poor labor conditions, including low pay and excessive work, as they try to cut costs.  Apple said in its 2015 supplier report that violations found during its its supplier audits have offered an opportunity to make “concrete changes for the better,” including sending back to school with full tuition and salary the underage workers at some of the suppliers.

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