In early December, China Labor Watch (CLW), an organization who educates the international community on supply chain labor issues including poor working conditions in Chinese factories, reported that Shi Zhaokun, a 15-year old worker, died of severe pneumonia on October 9 in Shanghai Shuguang Hospital. When Shi took the pre-employment physical examination on September 4, the results indicated that he was in good health. Pegatron denied fault in Shi's death. A few days later, medical exports sent to the factory by Apple Inc. noted that the death of a 15-year-old worker was not caused by working conditions at a Pegatron's factory. Despite the initial statements made by Pegatron, it was reported recently that they ended up paying the Shi Family close to $25,000.
Reuters had reported on December 12 that the boy who died of pneumonia had apparently used someone else's ID to get a job at the Shanghai factory which makes Apple iPhone products. Days later the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a report talking about Pegatron's advanced facial recognition system located at their plants. The WSJ reported that "Pegatron said applicants for its assembly line have their government-issued IDs checked for authenticity. Their faces are then matched to their ID photos through facial recognition technology, to weed out those using borrowed ID cards." Yet despite their high tech facial recognition system, Shi Shuguang was able to easily gain employment at the plant using someone else's ID.
So what happened to this case once it was off the news cycle's radar screen? We heard nothing more on this story and so we decided to do a little follow-up of our own. We discovered that the Shi family gave up on bringing a lawsuit against Pegatron due to their lack of funds. The CLW noted that the family ultimately accepted compensation of $24,820US (150,000 RMB) from Pegatron, including $21,512US from the factory and $3,310US from Pegatron's CEO.
On the surface, it would seem to be a huge payment from a company who initially denied any fault in Shi's death due to pneumonia. Whether Apple played any role in getting Pegatron to settle with the family is unknown at this time.