High school students assembling the iPhone X at a factory in China must endure illegal working hours or fail to graduate, according to a new report.
“We are being forced by our school to work here,” an 18-year-old student surnamed Yang told the Financial Times. “The work has nothing to do with our studies.”
Yang, who prepares to be a train attendant, is among six high school students who told the outlet that they have been working 11-hour days to produce the iPhone X at a Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou city, Henan province.
The six, aged 17 to 19, are among 3,000 students from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School sent to work at the facility in September. They said that the three-month stint is a required “work experience” for graduation.
Working 11 hours a day, however, is illegal under Chinese law. While the number of required work days was not reported, student interns cannot log more than 40 hours a week.
For her part, Yang assembled up to 1,200 iPhone X cameras in a shift.
A Foxconn employee said that the Zhengzhou factory hires students between August and December each year. There is so much demand that more than 300,000 can be hired, producing up to 20,000 iPhones a day, the Financial Times noted.
Both Apple and Foxconn confirmed such cases of students working overtime and are now looking into the complaints. However, they claimed that the interns are working voluntarily.
Apple wrote in a statement to Ars Technica:
“During the course of a recent audit, we discovered instances of student interns working overtime at a supplier facility in China. We’ve confirmed the students worked voluntarily, were compensated, and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime.
“At this facility, student intern programs are short term and account for a very small percentage of the workforce. When we found that some students were allowed to work overtime, we took prompt action. A team of specialists is on site at the facility working with the management on systems to ensure the appropriate standards are adhered to.”
This is not the first time Apple is under fire for labor conditions in its Chinese suppliers. Reports of underage workers, factory riots and employee exposure to toxic chemicals made headlines in the past.
Photos via Apple (YouTube Screenshots)