Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) yesterday denied a report that it exploits interns at production sites in China.
In the report, titled “Your phone may have been built by an intern,” the Nation, a weekly US magazine, said that factories in China use cheap interns on their production lines and Hon Hai — which is known as Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團) — was named as one of them.
Hon Hai said in a statement that the company’s short-term internship programs are organized in accordance with Chinese law.
The assembler of Apple Inc iPhones and iPads operates a broad production base in China, employing more than 1 million workers.
Hon Hai is believed to be starting the roll out of the next generation of iPhones in its Chinese factories for an expected global launch in September.
The Nation report cited a research paper released by Hong Kong Polytechnic University as saying that about 18 million young people attending vocational schools in China are funneled into the labor market as interns.
Employers there are exploiting the young interns, who are subjected to worse working conditions and lower wages than the companies’ regular employees.
The weekly also named Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co as part of the intern exploitation scheme.
“The internship infrastructure has simultaneously emerged as a way for huge corporations, including Honda and Apple contractor Foxconn, to circumvent regulations and strip young workers of their labor rights,” the Nation said.
“Foreign-contracted Chinese firms exploit young workers as disposable seasonal labor to meet peak-season production demands at the expense of their families, the school system and low-wage workers of all skill levels,” it said.
The report also said that because of their trainee status, underpaid interns do not receive standard on-the-job “skills subsidies.”
Hon Hai said that it works closely with Chinese authorities and vocational schools to carry out its internship programs, and that the number of interns during any given period of a program has never surpassed 1 percent of its total payroll.
Hon Hai said that it offers interns the same compensation a new employee receives and the wages are competitive.
The company buys insurance plans for all its employees, including interns, so that any worker employed as part of an internship program is entitled to compensation or medical care if they get sick, are injured or die on the job, the firm said.
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