High school students have allegedly been forced to work 11-hour days to assemble thousands of iPhone Xat a factory in Zhengzhou, China, according to Financial Times.
Told that it was part of a “work experience” that they needed to complete in order to graduate, a group of 3,000 students, aged 17 to 19 years old, from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School were sent in September to work at the local facility run by Taiwan-based Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry, known as Foxconn.
“We are being forced by our school to work here,” said Yang, who declined to give her surname for fear of punishment.
“The work has nothing to do with our studies,” said Yang, who added she assembled up to 1,200 iPhone X cameras a day.
— Bloomberg (@business) November 21, 2017
Yang was one of the six students who spoke to FT about their illegal overtime at the factory.
Foxconn and Apple’s other suppliers and assemblers are reportedly under pressure to produce millions of phones ahead of the key holiday seasons, as the tech giant released two new iPhones for the first time this year. The iPhone X’s launch has already hit production delays, pushing the release date to November instead of the usual September release.
Apple and Foxconn acknowledge the students’ overtime, but says the student were there voluntarily and compensated, though noted that they should not be working overtime.
“During the course of a recent audit, we discovered instances of student interns working overtime at a supplier facility in China,” Apple said. “When we found that some students were allowed to work overtime, we took prompt action.”
The school declined to comment to FT.
“Ultimately it’s about production needs. From Apple’s actions, it seems like they don’t care about the labor standards they set previously,” said Li Qiang, founder advocacy group China Labor Watch, as quoted by Bloomberg.
“Apple actually knew about this a couple of weeks ago, however they haven’t resolved the issue yet,” Qiang added. “They could have stopped these students working night shifts and long hours sooner, but they didn’t do that.”