Foxconn plants, the place where some of the most sought after pieces of technology are put together are in the news. TheGuardian now reports that Foxconn has confessed to have hired student interns as young as 14 to work in one of its factories in China, sparking off accusations of breaching the national law, while also raising questions on the factory’s internship program.
Foxconn is now facing accusations from employment rights activists in China, who opine that other big employers were using young student interns as a cheap source of labour for deploying in their production lines. Adults are not very keen on taking up such low paying jobs.
Admits to have hired student interns below 14
In a shocking revelation, Foxconn, i.e., the trading name of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, shared that it had found some interns employed at a factory in Yantai, in the north-eastern Shandong province, to be under the legal working age of 16. Foxconn, however, did not specify as to how many were underage.
The report further quoted the company as saying, “Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks. This is not only a violation of China's labour law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions.”
Incidentally, while Foxconn is the largest manufacturing partner for Apple, and makes products for Dell, Sony and Hewlett-Packard too, it added that the Yantai factory was not making Apple products. Reportedly, the announcement came after reports came up in the Chinese media about underage interns being part of its Chinese workforce of 1.2 million. It asserted that it had found “no evidence of similar violations at any of its other plants in China”.
Foxconn, according to reports, has assured that it would work in tandem with the local government to not allow schools involved in the Yantai case from the intern programme unless they were shown to be compliant with employment law and company policy.
“However, we recognise that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologised to each of the students for our role in this action,” the company said.
In an official statement, recently, China Labor Watch confirmed that workers at the Zhengzhou factory, especially those deployed in the Onsite Quality Control (OQC) line went on strike after being unable to cope with the excess pressure on them. The factory management and Apple, despite design defects, allegedly raised strict quality demands on workers, including those on indentations standards of 0.02mm, and demands pertaining to scratches on frames and back covers.
Around three to four thousand workers at the unit went on strike after Foxconn allegedly raised the bar on the quality standards to be maintained while producing the iPhone 5, without providing the required training to the workers. This led to the workers producing phones that did not meet the required standards. Reports state that quality control inspectors got involved in a scuffle with the workers and were beaten up several times by the latter. The factory management paid no heed to complaints regarding the conflicts and failed to take any measures. This, in turn, led to work coming to a grinding halt in the factories.
Later, Foxconn rubbished reports of a plant in China being affected by a strike.
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