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Apple Supplier Slapped with Pollution Charges

apple iphoneAn investigative report by workers-right group China Labor Watch accuses a major Apple supplier of dozens of labor rights violations as well as safety and environmental offenses.

CLW’s investigation of supplier Pegatron Group found at least 86 labor rights violations, including dispatch labor abuse, underage labor and poor working conditions, as well as incidents of environmental pollution at three China-based factories, the report released Monday says.

Apple increased its orders to three Pegatron Group factories this year as the tech company shifted some work away from Foxconn. CLW says the labor violations and suppressed wages gives Pegatron a competitive advantage that allowed the supplier to win Apple’s order.

From March to July 2013, CLW sent undercover investigators into three Pegatron Group factories, including Pegatron Shanghai, which produces the iPhone, RiTeng, a subsidiary making Apple computers and AVY, a subsidiary in Suzhou manufacturing iPad parts. Investigators also conducted 200 interviews outside of the factories.

The investigation discovered the RiTeng and AVY factories dispose of wastewater directly into the sewage system, polluting the local water source. They also found incidents of poor living conditions, abuse by management, hiring discrimination, excessive working hours and contract violations.

The Pegatron factories are violating a number of international and Chinese laws as well as Apple’s own supplier responsibility code of conduct, the report says.

Apple said in a response to the report it has conducted 15 comprehensive audits at Pegatron facilities since 2007, including surprise inspections at RiTeng and AVY within the past 18 months, the Wall Street Journal reports. The tech company said the report contains claims that are “new to us and we will investigate them immediately.”

Apple has been criticized for environmental violations and unhealthy working conditions at some of its other China-based suppliers. In 2011, a coalition of 36 environmental groups ranked Apple last among 29 tech companies for its responsiveness to health and environmental concerns in China.

The report (Chinese only) by the Beijing-based non-profit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) condemned Apple for its response to worker suicides at Foxconn as well as an incident at Wintek, a touch-screen factory where plant workers became ill from n-hexane exposure.

Last year, Apple told the IPE it would allow independent environmental reviews of at least two suppliers’ factories in China. The independent environmental reviews would examine toxic waste discharges into the water supply and soil, evaluating at least two of the 14 suppliers that Apple did environmental audits on last year, but could expand to additional suppliers.

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