Demand for Apple’s iPhone X is “off the charts,” and one of its suppliers may have brought in some illegal labor to meet that demand. The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that Apple’s Taiwan-based supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry–better known as Foxconn–has high school students working overtime to help assemble the iPhone X.
Six students told the Financial Times that they would usually work 11-hour shifts to help put together the phones at a factory in Zhengzhou, China. The students, all between the ages of 17-19 years old, were among a group of 3,000 students from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School. The six students said they had been sent to work at a local factory run by Foxconn in September. High school workers are classified as interns under Chinese law, and when it comes to interns, it’s illegal to make them work long hours or overtime, the FT reported.
Both Apple and Foxconn acknowledged to the FT that they had discovered cases of student interns working overtime and said they were taking remedial action. However, according to the FT, both companies said the students were there by choice. “We’ve confirmed the students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime,” an Apple spokesperson told the newspaper. This is not the first time that questions have been raised about labor practices at Foxconn, which have included attempted suicides, rioting, using student labor to make PS4s, and hiring 14-year old “interns.”ML