Apple supplier Foxconn has admitted to using workers as young as 14 years old at its factories in China.
The Taiwanese manufacturer acknowledged to CNET that it found children ages 14 and 15 year’s old illegally working as “interns” at its factory in Yantai, Shandong Province, China — where the legal working age is 16:
“This is not only a violation of China’s labor 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,” the company said in an e-mailed statement to CNET. “We are also carrying out a full investigation, in cooperation with the respective educational institutions, to determine how this happened and the actions that must be taken by our company to ensure that it can never happen again.”
China Labor Watch said it confirmed that Foxconn was using child labor at the Yantai facility over the summer as part of a program in which local schools and universities provided the company with cheap labor, with student “interns” earning about $61 a week along academic credits.
“These underage interns were mainly sent to Foxconn by schools, but Foxconn did not check the IDs of these young interns. The schools involved in this incident should take primary responsible, but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers.”
Foxconn’s internship program came under fire days before the launch of Apple’s new iPhone 5, when Chinese news media accused the company of using thousands of interns bussed in from area universities to ramp up production of the new smartphone to cope with surging demand. While Foxconn denied that students were coerced, the schools reportedly canceled classes, and some students said they were pressured to sign statements their participation was voluntary.