Schoolkids allegedly employed in iPhone 5 production
It's not quite a regular internship: Students at a technology school in China were reportedly pulled out of school and brought to a factory to manufacture Apple Inc.'s upcoming smartphone, the iPhone 5, a tech site said Friday.
A report on The Verge cited accounts by The Shanghai Daily and the CNR News radio station that "up to several thousands" of students were brought to Foxconn to work on the phone for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
The Verge also cited a source from the social network Sina Weibo that claimed some 200 students from Huaiyin Institute of Technology were driven from their school to the Foxconn factory in Jiangsu "in a sort of forced 'internship' program."
"The source, who claimed to be a student at the school, said the work began last Thursday. The student also said they are being paid a rate of 1,550 yuan (about $244) a month for six 12-hour days of work per week," it said.
A report on The Shanghai Daily quoted several other students corroborating the claim, The Verge added.
But The Verge said its own research showed the relatively new Jiangsu Foxconn factory is not a manufacturing line but a component manufacturing location.
This may make it hard for workers to know they were working on the iPhone 5, it added.
Foxconn internship criticized
The Verge cited a separate report on China National Radio that some schools even suspended classes for the next month to meet the internship's demands.
It quoted an education official who seemed "baffled" that the program was running during the school year.
However, The Verge said a new report from The Shanghai Daily showed those students forcibly pulled from school to work at the factory are beginning to return to school.
It added those who applied for the internships voluntarily will be allowed to stay.
"This piece essentially confirms that students were in fact being pulled out of school to fill empty factory worker slots, and cites a city government official's statement that schools have been ordered to follow internship policies and 'correct the violations,'" it said.
The Verge noted Foxconn's internship program had been criticized in an investigation report of the Fair Labor Association.
FLA found Foxconn to have interns working long hours and sometimes lax documentation.
Foxconn explains internship program
The Verge cited a statement from Foxconn that said it has had a short-term internship program in cooperation with a number of vocational schools in China.
"Participants in the internship program, all of whom are of legal working age in China, represent an average of 2.7 percent of our workforce in China. The internship programs range in length from one to six months and students are free to leave the internship program at any time," it quoted Foxconn as saying.
Foxconn was also quoted by The Verge as saying that, while it provides vocational schools with qualification requirements, "it is the schools that recruit the students under the supervision of the relevant local government and the schools also assign teachers to accompany and monitor the students throughout their internship program."
Foxconn also said a recent audit of three of its facilities in China carried out by the Fair Labor Association confirmed that there was "no evidence to indicate that any of the interns were pressured to participate in or to continue to participate in any internship program."
"A previous audit by the Fair Labor Association confirmed that students find their participation in this program valuable and that the positions offered by Foxconn were at compensation levels equivalent to entry-level full-time workers," it added. — TJD, GMA News
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