Foxconn, the Taiwan-based manufacturing company that produces Apple's iPhones, has admitted to hiring underage interns to staff its facility in Yantai, China, marking the latest in a string of events that have called the manufacturer's labor practices into question.
Foxconn issued a statement Tuesday admitting its violation of China's fair labor laws, which require workers to be at least 16 years of age. Some of the interns working in Foxconn's Yantai plant, as part of the company's broader internship program which recruits from local schools, were as young as 14.
"An internal investigation carried out by our company has confirmed media reports in China that some participants in the short-term student internship program that is administered at our campus in Yantai, Shandong Province are under the legal working age of 16 years," a spokesperson for Foxconn Technology Group said in an emailed statement to CRN. "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."
[Related: Report: iPad Mini Gets Official Launch Date]
Foxconn's admission came on the heels of a statement issued Tuesday by China Labor Watch, a New York-based advocacy group for fair labor laws, which confirmed the presence of underage workers in the Yantai facility.
"According to China Labor Watch's investigations and Chinese media reports, it has been confirmed that Foxconn Yantai employed interns under 16 years old. A small number of student interns employed in the summer were between 14 to 16 years old," the organization said in the statement. "Now Foxconn has begun to send those underage interns back to school. These underage interns were mainly sent to Foxconn by schools, but Foxconn did not check the IDs of these young interns."
Foxconn said the underage interns were employed by its Yantai facility for approximately three weeks, and that no other instances of underage workers have been discovered at any of its other campuses. The company also said it will work with local government officials to ensure that any other future interns employed at its facilities are at least 16 years of age.
News of underage workers at Foxconn's Yantai plant comes just one week after a major employee strike reportedly broke out at its Zhengzhou facility, sparked by worker frustration related to taxing new quality assurance procedures put in place for Apple's new iPhone 5. Foxconn denied reports of a large-scale strike, and said its production schedules were still on track.
PUBLISHED OCT. 16, 2012