Apple supplier Foxconn says it has stopped interns from working illegal overtime at its factory in China, after reports emerged that at least six students worked eleven-hour days on iPhone X production lines.
Today’s announcement follows a Financial Times report earlier this week that revealed around 3,000 students worked at its iPhone X assembly plant in Zhengzhou, as the firm struggles to catch up with demand for the smartphone after production delays.
A worker assembles iPhones in a Foxconn factory
Apple on Tuesday said an audit had confirmed “instances” of student interns working overtime at the supplier facility in Henan province, and both Apple and Foxconn said they would take remedial action to stop the practice, which breaches Chinese laws preventing children from working more than 40 hours per week.
“Apple is dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” the tech giant said today in a statement given to the BBC. “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.”
Foxconn, which operates the intern program, told the BBC in a statement that it had taken “immediate action to ensure that no interns are carrying out any overtime work”. It added that “interns represent a very small percentage” of its workforce in China and that the breach of labour laws was inconsistent with its own policies.
Foxconn is thought to hire large numbers of seasonal workers each year to assemble the latest iPhone models in time for the busy holiday shopping season. The FT report, citing an anonymous Foxconn employee, said there can be up to 20,000 workers producing up to 300,000 iPhones per day. However, this year it appears the manufacturer has found it particularly challenging to keep up with demand for the iPhone X, which Apple has described as being “off the charts”.
As per its supplier responsibility efforts, Apple requires manufacturing partners like Foxconn to limit working hours to no more than 60 hours a week, with a mandatory rest day once every seven days.
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