Foxconn Confirms Underage Workers
October 16, 2012

Foxconn Confirms Most Recent China Labor Watch Report

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Foxconn, the world´s largest manufacturer of electronic products, including Apple´s iPad and iPhone, has found itself in hot water once more regarding labor and hiring processes, an issue which they´ve all but become synonymous with.

Following several prior complaints about the working conditions in their plants, the extremely long overtime hours and the practice of hiring underage employees, different advocacy and standards groups have been performing audits on the plants. Yesterday, one such group, China Labor Watch, released a statement saying they had found a “small number” of workers in between 14 and 16 years old in one of Foxconn´s plants.

Today, Foxconn has confirmed these findings to Bloomberg.

In their report, China Labor Watch said these underage workers were sent to Foxconn Yantai as a part of a summer internship program. These teens were sent to work in the plants by their school, but according to China Labor Watch, Foxconn failed to check the IDs of these students and verify their age.

“The schools involved in this incident should take primary responsible, but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers,” reads yesterday´s press statement from the Chinese labor advocacy group.

Foxconn confirmed this information to Bloomberg, saying these underage interns had worked in the plant for 3 weeks.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has made several efforts in the past to ensure better working conditions for his more than 1 million employees, such as raising wages, limiting overtime and cracking down on underage workers. Apple, too, has been enforcing their underage labor policies, insisting that each of their factories hire only workers of a certain age.

“Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated,” replied Foxconn in their email to Bloomberg.

“We recognize that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action.”

China Labor Watch also accused Foxconn of trapping underage interns in the days leading up to Apple´s iPhone 5 announcement and launch. In this September report, Li Wang, the founder of China Labor Watch, said 10 out of the 87 employees he spoke with outside the factory gates were students, and all 10 had said they were forced to remain on the lines to meet high quotas for the new smartphone launch.

This new iPhone has been the source of more than one point of friction in Foxconn´s plants. Since its release, the manufacturing plants have already lost several shifts as workers begin protesting against their supervisors and employees. Most recently, employees in the quality assurance line began fighting with their supervisors following reports of an easily scratched back on the new Apple smartphone. According to Bloomberg, more than 2,000 employees were involved in this fight, though Foxconn initially denied these claims, saying there were 2 incidents earlier in the month which were “immediately addressed.”

Another 2,000 employee brawl also broke out in September, resulting in the hospitalization of 40 employees.