In Bloomberg journalist Shai Oster’s most recent report on Apple and Pegatron, he mentioned that workers wanted more overtime hours because wages were too low. This is consistent with our investigation into Pegatron and other Apple suppliers. In our interviews with Pegatron workers, many said they would leave the factory if they did not have enough overtime hours. The point we want to make is that low wages are the key reason why workers seek out overtime hours. If Pegatron is seriously considering improving labor conditions, it should raise workers’ wages, rather than just imposing constraints on overtime hours.
When reading Shai Oster’s report, it is important to note that he went to Pegatron in April, and as Mr. Oster said and I quote, “None has been there for more than a few months.” This report revealed that Pegatron had made strict regulations on overtime hours including a facial recognition and ID check system which would prevent workers from entering the facility after 60 work hours per week. It is true that Pegatron has taken some methods to control overtime hours, and most workers' workweeks were compliant with Apple's 60-hour maximum standard in March and April. But this was only true in March and April, or during Pegatron’s low season. The picture would be very different if Mr. Oster were allowed to visit Pegatron during peak production season. Pegatron has complete control over the facial recognition and ID check system and can choose whether or not to use it based on its need. For example, in September and October 2015, when Pegatron was busy making the iPhone 6, workers’ overtime hours significantly exceeded Apple’s standards.
Pay stubs do not lie. Pegatron’s pay stubs indicate when the overtime hours are worked, categorized as: regular workdays, weekends, or holidays. Thus, we can get an accurate picture of workers’ total overtime hours. We collected 1,261 pay stubs in September and October 2015 at Pegatron. In September 2015, about 50% of workers had overtime hours above 80 hours. In October, 85% of workers worked overtime of 80 hours or above, and 66% of workers worked overtime exceeding 90 hours. (See the graphs below) With so many overtime hours worked, it only proves that Apple and Pegatron are manipulating its supervision or playing a numbers game despite their insistence that that their workweeks are compliant with Apple’s standards as well as the stipulations of Chinese law.
We acknowledge that Pegatron has made limited improvements in the past year, and workers’ overtime hours are slightly lower when compared to last year. We wish that Apple and Pegatron will put forward a sincere effort to improve labor conditions in China, and hope that Chinese workers who make products for the whole world may be treated equally and fairly by these multinational companies.
Note: 36 hours is the upper limit on overtime set by Chinese law.