Apple’s ($AAPL) largest supplier in Asia has been illegally employing high school students working overtime to assemble the iPhone X, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The student interns, aged 17 to 19, were yanked out of the Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School to work 11 hour days for three month shifts at the Foxconn factory – which constitutes illegal overtime under Chinese law. On top of that, the factory work was required “work experience” in order to graduate.
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“We are being forced by our school to work here,” said Ms Yang, an 18-year-old student training to be a train attendant who declined to use her first name for fear of punishment. “The work has nothing to do with our studies.” She said she assembled up to 1,200 iPhone X cameras a day.
When contacted by the Financial Times, Apple and Foxconn admitted that they knew about the cases of illegal student overtime and were taking remedial action.
A Foxconn representative said “all work was voluntary and compensated appropriately, [but] the interns did work overtime in violation of our policy” prohibiting student interns working more than 40 hours a week.
The launch of the iPhone X was riddled with production problems which resulted in a two month delay in its release, and which caused Foxconn’s quarterly profit to drop 39% as factories remained empty until the issues were worked out.
To make up for it, Foxconn required a surge of seasonal workers. The Financial Times reports:
According to a long-time Foxconn employee, the Zhengzhou factory hires students every year during the busy season between August and December. Such hiring can swell numbers at the plant from a base of 100,000 to more than 300,000 workers producing up to 20,000 iPhones a day, the employee said.
But this year, the need for seasonal workers was greater, the employee added.
“The purchasing practices of Apple and others are designed to cut costs, and do things ‘just in time’,” said Jenny Chan, assistant professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “This leads to the use of student labourers who can be flexibly hired.”
Foxconn said its internship programme was “carried out in co-operation with local governments and a number of vocational schools in China”.
So, there you have it Apple fans – some underpaid, overworked high school kid was required to make your iPhone X so they could earn their vocational degree. Of course, once they graduate I imagine they go straight back to the Foxconn factory to work even longer hours as an adult.If you enjoy the content at iBankCoin, please follow us on Twitter