Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), the world’s largest manufacturer of electronics, said it found interns as young as 14 years old had worked at a facility in Yantai, northeastern China, confirming a report by an advocacy group.
A company investigation found the interns, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked at the campus for about three weeks, Foxconn said in an e-mail. A “small number” of interns who were sent by schools and employed at Yantai over the summer were aged 14 to 16, a statement issued on Monday by China Labor Watch said.
The underage interns add to labor issues during the past three years that include suicides, riots and strikes at Foxconn facilities in China, where the company employs more than 1 million workers. To improve working conditions, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) raised pay and allowed inspections by outside observers.
“Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated,” Taipei-based Foxconn said in the e-mail. “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.”
One of the company’s factories in Zhengzhou, China, lost two shifts on Oct. 5 after workers became frustrated trying to prevent scratching on the casings of the Apple Inc’s iPhone 5. In addition, the company’s plants had at least 10 suicides in 2010.
After the suicides, Apple Inc chief executive officer Tim Cook brought his company into the Washington-based Fair Labor Association in January, leading to inspections of Foxconn’s plants.
The schools which sent the underage interns to the Yantai campus should take primary responsibility, China Labor Watch said, but added that Foxconn, which sent the interns back to those schools, is also culpable.