Apple under pressure as Foxconn accused of hiding underage workers

23 February 2012

rotten appleApple is under fire after their manufacturing partner Foxconn was accused of using forced student labour and hiding underage workers during the well publicised independent inspections last week.

Debby Sze Wan Chan, a case worker at Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) has been tracking what they allege to be "involuntary labour practices" at Foxconn. She told Reg that local governments in China "repay" Foxconn’s decision to locate in their area by getting vocational students to work in the factories as interns in order to help cope with the high turnover of employees.

“We describe the internships as involuntary or forced labour because if they don't go to the factory they may not be able to graduate or they may need to drop out of their courses,” says Chan.  She added that, after speaking to Foxconn workers, the recent inspection by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) was hugely flawed, after SACOM gathered information which says that Foxconn are hiding illegal workers.

“I heard from Foxconn workers that underage workers of 16-17 years old were not assigned any overtime work during the audits,” she said. “It’s obvious that Foxconn prepared for the audits, although the FLA said they were unannounced.”

Even the FLA are coming under scrutiny, with SACOM claiming that they are “not really independent”, given that they're funded by corporate companies, including Apple themselves.

While many companies invariably have similar problems on their hands, Apple have made themselves a target by claiming to be more stringent about such matters and, in Apple's defence, CEO Tim Cook has admitted the existence of underage labour supplier plants and has pledged to end it. Apple have also pressured Foxconn into raising workers’ wages by 16 to 25 per cent.

But is it enough?

TOPICS:   Technology

5 comments

  • Phil
    "although the FLA said they were unannounced." This is contradicts what the ABC documentary said. They explained that they were expecting them but were going to dig deep enough to uncover all the hidden secrets. Unfortunately its not apples responsibility, its Foxconn http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqL2nS6GljY
  • Dick
    They weren't being hidden. Little kids just like hiding in cupboards.
  • Suck M.
    LOL, after all Foxconn ONLY make Apple products and nothing else eh !!! Slow news day again I see, you'll be telling us next that 12 year olds work in Nike sweat houses for long hours and less than minimum wage, as if we would believe that :)
  • Kevin
    So where are the Chinese health and safety officers? Where are the agencies controlling all these things? Seriously expecting us to think that the controlling Chinese 'evil' government isn't being very careful? Rubbish. I heard a rumour that they are hiding the alien babies from Roswell who are working there. Just as likely.
  • Mike H.
    They're not hiding them they're just stoping them from jumping like lemmings.

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