The company that manufactures Apple’s iPhones has responded to an accusation that vocational students are forced to work in its Chinese factories by saying yesterday that its agreement with their schools allows them to leave whenever they want.
China Labor Watch said this week that Foxconn (富士康), which employs about 1.2 million people in China, employed students aged 16 to 18 in its factories. It cited employees as saying some wanted to leave, but were compelled by their schools to stay.
Foxconn, owned by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), said it takes interns from vocational schools who work for one to six months in its facilities. It said students are picked by their schools, are at least the minimum Chinese legal working age, receive the same wages as entry-level employees and are accompanied by teachers who monitor them throughout the program.
Foxconn’s agreement with schools says “students are free to leave the internship program at any time,” the company said in a written response to questions.
China Labor Watch, based in New York City, cited a message from an unidentified Foxconn employee that said the employee saw female students quarreling with a teacher.
“I want to go back to school. I don’t want to work here anymore! Why do you force us to work in this remote place!” one student was quoted as saying.
Last week, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co was accused by China Labor Watch of mistreating employees in China and illegally using child labor. Samsung acknowledged some problems may have arisen due to production demands.