Foxconn Technology, China's largest private-sector employer and Apple Inc.'s main manufacturer, is in the news in China this week for violating Chinese labor law by engaging interns as young as 14.
China Labor Watch, a New York based NGO founded to defend workers' rights in China, has confirmed that Foxconn violated China's child protection laws by having the underage interns work in their factories. Since the release of that statement Foxconn has confirmed it and released their own statement taking responsibility and promising to terminate those responsible.
The city government of Yantai reportedly required schools to send interns to Foxconn. Foxconn is the largest single provider of foreign investment to the province of Shandong, where Yantai is located, and they are currently looking to hire about 20,000 additional workers but have been unable to. The largest schools are sending around 3,000 students.
One school chief told a China National Radio reporter that the city government was obligating them to send the students to intern at Foxconn. The school in question had managed to put it off until after the October first holiday but all schools are said to be feeling pressure from the government.
(Foxconn workers at the Zhengzhou facility | Image: inquisitr)
The statements from Foxconn and China Labor Watch both said that the violation occurred because Foxconn employees failed to check the ages of the interns coming in. This contradicts statements from workers, which were first circulated by China National Radio. When asked by a reporter if the people at the factory had seen his ID, one student who was under sixteen confirmed that they had seen it.
In fact, since the ID badges worn by the students under the age of sixteen contain an extra row of text they are highly visible and all students should have had their ID's examined upon arrival. Even so, among the students of just one school, the Yantai Vocational School of Engineering, there were reported to be fifty to sixty under the age of sixteen.
So what do interns do at Foxconn? They work just like full time employees. In addition to their regular shifts, they work over time to fill orders. They work the night shift which is from eight PM until five AM. Overtime shifts lasting 12 hours are not uncommon. And do they get weekends off? Another one of the students, again under the age of 16, said no. They didn't get a single day off.
For the moment it seems the blame is falling on the Foxconn for not checking the students' ID's. Foxconn is currently in the process of responding to a Fair Labor Practices audit detailing a long list of violations at their factories.