The inquiry (paywall) was commissioned by the Financial Times. Six students from Zhengzhou, aged 17 to 19, declared having worked eleven hours a day while on an apprenticeship program with Foxconn, Apple’s famous subsidiary in Taiwan, in order to validate their qualification.
The very expensive iPhone X. (Image: Sergei BobylevTASS via Getty Images)
This was illegal: in China, apprentices are not allowed to work more than forty hours per week. On top of this, this type of line-production work had nothing to do with their actual studies. Worse still, it was apparently their own school that forced them to start this apprenticeship.
Apple and Foxconn launched an internal investigation and say they “regret” having employed students illegally and flouted Chinese laws, they say however that the students agreed to the terms and were paid for their work.
These six students belong to the Urban Rail Transit School in Zhengzhou. Foxconn contracts around three thousand apprentices a year from this school, so it’s not unreasonable to think more damning anonymous testimonies will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.