Teens Working Illegal Overtime to Assemble iPhones

A Foxconn facility in China

Student labor is common in China, but workers must be paid, their positions must be voluntary, and they can not exceed working 40 hours a week.

Six high-schoolers told FT that they are regularly working 11-hour days at a factory in Zhengzhou, China, constructing the iPhone X. The time parameters exceed China's legally mandated amount student interns are permitted to work.

One student even told the Financial Times that they were forced to work at the Foxconn factory and that the work they were doing wasn't related to their studies. "We have investigated all of these cases and confirmed that while all work was voluntary and compensated appropriately, the interns did work overtime in violation of our policy". Students in China, according to the paper, are classified as interns, which means overtime hours are illegal under Chinese law. "The work has nothing to do with our studies", Ms. Yang added, noting that she's now training to become a train attendant.

Foxconn and Apple have come under scrutiny for conditions and circumstances of labor in China before.

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Workers at a Foxconn facility in 2010.

Apple and Foxconn said they were taking remedial action. "They could have stopped these students working night shifts and long hours sooner, but they didn't do that".

The high school refused to comment, and China's education ministry could not be reached by Times reporters.

"Apple actually knew about this a couple of weeks ago, however they haven't resolved the issue yet", Qiang added. 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. 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. According to its 2017 Supplier Responsibility report, Apple only found one underage worker-"a 15½ year old" where the legal working age is 16-in its supply chain audit, and the company moved quickly to address it. However, this year the company released two new iPhones for the first time, putting extra pressure on its suppliers and assemblers to churn out millions of handsets ahead of the key holiday shopping season.

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