CHINA - Electronics giant Apple Inc said on Thursday it has sent independent medical experts to one of its major contractors in China amid accusations that bad working conditions led to several workers' deaths.
"We are deeply sad about the deaths of laborers at Pegatron and have commissioned independent medical professionals from the United States and China to conduct probes since last month," Apple said in a statement.
"While they have found no evidence of any link between the deaths and working conditions there, we realise that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones."
It added that Apple has a "long-standing commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for every worker in our supply chain", and the company has formed a team to work with Pegatron Technology Co at the contractor's plants to ensure that "conditions meet our high standards".
Pegatron, a Taiwan-based manufacturing company that supplies Apple, Sony and Dell, confirmed on Wednesday that four workers at its Shanghai factory, which has nearly 100,000 employees, had died of diseases.
The announcement came after New York-based advocacy group China Labor Watch said on Monday that several workers at Pegatron's Shanghai plant "passed away in a short period of time", Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
Bloomberg cited a statement from the labour rights group as saying that among the dead was a 15-year-old worker who died of pneumonia on Oct 9 at a Shanghai hospital.
The Taiwan company said in a statement that "Pegatron has strict measures in place to verify workers' ages before and after they are hired, and we work with health and safety experts to provide a safe working environment for each and every worker".
The young worker who died in October used his 21-year-old cousin's identification to apply for the job, Pegatron said, adding that the factory did not know he was underage.