Apple Inc. has been using high school students and making them work illegal overtime to build the iPhone X through Foxconn, its main supplier in Asia, to catch up with the unmeetable demand for the device, the Financial Times (FT) reported Tuesday.
What makes the present allegations rather worrisome is the idea that Foxconn was reportedly forcing these high school students to work at the factory for periods as long as three months in order to gain required "work experience" in order to graduate.
During the course of a recent audit, we discovered instances of student interns working overtime at a supplier facility in China. These six claimed to be part of a group of 3000 student workers assembling parts for the brand new, $1579 iPhone X.
"All work was voluntary and compensated appropriately", a factory spokesperson said. In 2012, there were reports of riots, suicides, and poor working conditions that ultimately forced Apple to ask the Fair Labor Association to inspect the Foxconn factory conditions.
Hon Hai Precision Industry, more commonly known as Foxconn, came into the public consciousness earlier this decade when a salvo of exposés described the degrading and often unsafe conditions its poorly-paid workers endured to build expensive trinkets such as the iPhone.
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Foxconn noted that its policies prohibit interns from working more than 40 hours per week, however the iPhone-builder acknowledged the policy violation and said it's working with Apple to ensure history doesn't repeat itself.
Apple's latest model, the $999 iPhone X, faced hiccups in production that stymied some suppliers and held back business for Hon Hai, which gets more than half its sales from the Cupertino, California-based company. They regularly work 11-hour days, which violates Chinese labour laws for student interns, the report states. "The issue remains unresolved as the company has production targets to meet".
The spokesperson said Foxconn would work with local governments and vocational schools to organize its internship program. "A team of specialists are on site at the facility working with the management on systems to ensure the appropriate standards are adhered to". During this period, staff numbers at the Zhengzhou factory can triple from 100,000 to more than 300,000, the employee reportedly told The Financial Times.
The illegal overtime problems are also nothing new.