FT said Foxconn hired the students to keep up with demand for the new iPhone X © PA Images
FT said Foxconn hired the students to keep up with demand for the new iPhone X © PA Images

Apple admits iPhone X assembled by illegal student labour

28 November 2017

Apple has admitted that high school students interning at a Taiwan supplier exceeded legal working hours while working on an iPhone X production line. 

The tech giant was responding to a report published by the Financial Times (FT) last week looking into high school students and their work experience. 

The newspaper reported that six high school children claimed to have worked 11-hour days assembling the iPhone X at a factory in Zhengzhou China.

The students said their school told them that they had to complete three months of work experience in order to graduate. 

The six workers were among 3,000 students who were sent from Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School to work at a local facility run by a Taiwan-based Apple supplier, Hon Hai Precision Industry, which is better known as Foxconn. 

FT said the Taiwanese firm hired the students in September to keep up with demand for the new iPhone X, which Apple has described as being “off the charts”.

Responding to the report, Foxconn Technology Group, which operated the internship programme at the Chinese factory, said: “All work was voluntary and compensated appropriately.” But it admitted: “The interns did work overtime in violation of our policy.”

It said it took “immediate action to ensure that no interns are carrying out any overtime work”.

An Apple spokesman confirmed that an audit revealed that the students had been working beyond the legal number of hours, which is 40 per week for children. 

“At this facility, student intern programmes are short term and account for a very small percentage of the workforce,” he said. 

“When we found that some students were allowed to work overtime, we took prompt action—a team of specialists are on site at the facility working with the management on systems to ensure the appropriate standards are adhered to. 

“Apple is dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We know our work is never done and we’ll continue to do all we can to make a positive impact and protect workers in our supply chain.” 

The iPhone makes up more than half of Apple’s revenue, with more than 46.6m phones sold between July and September this year.

Its latest model, the iPhone X, was launched on the 10-year anniversary of the iconic smartphone and is Apple’s most expensive handset yet, retailing for £999.

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