Apple to investigate unfair labour practice allegations against Pegatron

Apple Inc said it would investigate allegations by advocacy group China Labor Watch that factories run by its Taiwanese supplier Pegatron Corp used underage workers, paid insufficient wages and forced employees to work overtime.

The New York-based group said in  a report issued today at least 86 labour rights violations had been revealed, while investigating three Pegatron factories from March to July.

Though Apple had been in close contact with the group for several months, the report still contained  ''claims that are new to us,'' and those would be probed immediately, according to Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Apple, in a phone interview yesterday.

Apple emerged as the first technology company to join the Washington-based Fair Labor Association last year following criticism by human-rights organisations about conditions at suppliers including Foxconn Technology Group.

CLW executive director Li Qiant said in a statement yesterday that Pegatron factories were even worse than those at Foxconn.

Wu added the new claims would be investigated thoroughly to ensure corrective action was taken where needed and violations of code of conduct were reported. She added deviations from the code would not be tolerated.

President and chief executive officer Jason Cheng said in an e-mailed statement that Pegatron would investigate the allegations.

The report, would be released today by New York-based nonprofit China Labor Watch. It alleged safety and environmental violations; the withholding of worker pay or the identification cards they need to work elsewhere; as also poor living conditions at China-based factories owned by Taiwan's Pegatron Corp and two subsidiaries.

Breaches of the kind violated both Chinese law and Apple's supplier policy, and would show the extent of the challenge for Apple to uphold the relatively high labour standards it had set in a Chinese electronics-supply chain where breaches in labour law were common.

Apple, in a statement, said it remained,  ''committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain.'' It added Pegatron facilities since 2007, had undergone 15 comprehensive audits at, including surprise audits within the past 18 months.

According to Pegatron chief executive Jason Cheng, the company would investigate [the allegations] fully and take immediate actions to correct any violations to Chinese labour laws and its own code of conduct.

Pegatron had till now been able to avoid major scrutiny of its factory conditions thanks to its smaller scale, the company, though, was growing quickly. According to analysts, its factory in the Pudong district across the river from downtown Shanghai produced  a third of the world's iPhones and iPads.