Are Apple's Chinese iPhone plants forcing interns to work?
Apple's association with Foxconn has long been a source of complaint for many. Not least the relatives of the surprisingly high number of suicidal employees who worked there. Away from Apple's ideology and odd Scientology surface-calm, the Chinese end of the production line has been a constant source of negative news.
And there's more, with campaigners claiming that Apple's Chinese factories are employing tens of thousands of students, many of them on forced internships. This news comes on the back of Foxconn chairman - Terry Gou - making promises that the company will improve working conditions after an independent audit found numerous labour law violations at his factories.
However, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) are pointing and coughing loudly at their findings of forced internships, where students are told they won't be graduating unless they spend months working on production lines during holidays.
"The gross violation of forced internship was not addressed at all," said Debby Cheng, project officer of Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom), of the Foxconn audit. "They tried to water down the problem."
It has been reported that students of nursing, languages, music and art are being forced into internships of between three and six months, where they'll work 10-hour days and seven-day weeks. China Daily report that some students have been informed by teachers that they must carry out work "as ordered by the provincial government" and any that refuse would have to drop out. The FLA found that, at one point, Foxconn had 68,000 workers who were interns, and that "interns worked both overtime and night shifts, violations of regulations governing internships".
While Apple's value in the market continues to grow, this is PR poison for the company who are, by association, indulging in practices that going against their baby-boomer, idealistic image.