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Putting Pegatron’s wages in context

One of Apple’s manufacturers has landed the gadget maker in a new scandal involving worker’s rights and wages. But how much do Pegatron’s workers make in comparison to others in China?


Apple has found itself in hot water again over the conduct of its new manufacturer, Pegatron. As we reported earlier on Monday, a New York-based watchdog group called China Labor Watch has released a report with a whole slew of allegations about the apparent systematic violation of worker’s rights and the reckless environmental standards at the factories of Pegatron and its subsidiaries Riteng and AVY in China.

While these allegations haven’t been independently verified, considering the history of rival manufacturer Foxconn and the reputation of Chinese manufacturers in general these allegations don’t seem far off. After all, this is the country that is known for both pioneering the modern overseas sweatshop and constantly having spectacular environmental catastrophes.

Aside from the poor working conditions at Pegatron’s factories, the CLW report focused extensively on the wages that workers receive. Media coverage of the report followed suit, pointing out that workers on assembly lines earned poverty-level wages by North American standards that equaled mere hundreds of dollars a month.

But in comparison to other workers in China, where to workers at Pegatron’s factories stand?

Keep in mind that China is a vastly in-equal country, with one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world. Average salaries for a city don’t paint an accurate picture because of the vastly different levels of income between China’s poor, working class, middle class and upper class. Sometimes wages don’t match up to western equivalents; teachers are paid much less than their western counterparts (further reading).  Also keep in mind that given this inequality, the cost of living in China is very, very low.

It might be the case that the real story here is not what wages Pegatron pays, but what it makes its workers go through to get those wages.

Pegatron could not be contacted for comment Monday afternoon (Taiwan time). Emails sent to its spokespeople and investor relations contacts in Taipei were returned with an out of office notification. Calls to a publicly listed investor relations number on Pegatron’s website could not be connected.


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