Workers' rights group accuses 'iPad mini' supplier of labor abuses

A labor group is criticizing Apple supplier RiTeng for labor abuses including excessive overtime

A workers' rights group has slammed what it called the "iPad mini manufacturer" for maintaining poor working conditions at a factory in China.

On the eve of an Apple event at which the company is widely expected to launch a new, smaller iPad, the labor protection group Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) has released a report criticizing working conditions at a factory in Shanghai run by RiTeng Computer Accessory Co., a subsidiary of Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Pegatron.

RiTeng made headlines last year when an explosion occurred at one of its Shanghai factories that sent 61 workers to the hospital.

SACOM accused the supplier of fostering widespread labor abuses. Overtime in the factory can reach up to 200 hours a month, five times the legal limit, according to SACOM. The supplier also often fails to pay for some of the overtime work logged, SACOM said, and workers it interviewed also stated RiTeng has never given them the 10-minute breaks every two hours it once promised.

The group also interviewed students working at the supplier's factories, who are interning at the factory and earn about 85 yuan (US$13.50) a day for work, including overtime it said. SACOM said one student complained of exhaustion and said school teachers are requiring the students to intern at the factory in order to earn their graduate certificates.

In addition to the alleged labor abuses, RiTeng 's manufacturing facilities are still poorly maintained, according to SACOM. This comes after last year's factory explosion, which Shanghai authorities suggested in a preliminary investigation could have been caused by aluminum dust.

"In the aftermath of the explosion, Riteng has not learned a lesson from the tragedy," SACOM said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pegatron and RiTeng representatives were also unavailable.

Apple's supply chain has come under growing scrutiny from both the media and labor groups, following suicides and other worker-related incidents and deaths in China at another supplier, Foxconn Technology Group. In response to the criticism, Apple has said it has spent years improving factory conditions at its suppliers, and wishes to make its supply chain a positive model for the industry. Early this year, the company also recruited the Fair Labor Association to audit three Foxconn factories in China.

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Tags iPadtabletsAppleenvironmenthardware systemsElectronics manufacturingPegatronRiTeng Computer AccessoryStudents & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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