Employees at Foxconn factories in China claim that the company hid underage workers during the recent inspection by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) so that they would not be discovered, according to the organization Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM).
Foxconn reportedly “prepared for the inspection” by not assigning overtime to workers aged between 16 and 17, and sending some off to other departments while the inspection went ahead. That’s according to project officer Debby Sze Wan Chan from SACOM, who relayed the claims from Foxconn workers in a recent interview with AppleInsider.
At least two workers from Zhenghou have spoken with Chan, revealing that Foxconn altered a number of its practices for the benefit of the FLA inspection. One worker, who was usually only allowed one break a day, was given three while the audit was ongoing:
“All underage workers, between 16-17 years old, were not assigned any overtime work and some of them were even sent to other departments,” Chan reported the workers as having said.
Another Foxconn worker in Chengdu said she had been allowed three breaks a day recently because of the audit, whereas she is accustomed to only receiving one break a day.
While Apple’s supplier code of conduct allows for workers between 16 and 18 years of age, there must be “special protections” for those workers that limit how long they can work each day, and what kind of tasks they are allowed to perform, according to AppleInsider.
The initial outcome of the FLA’s inspection has been positive, with its president, Auret can Heerden, labeling Foxconn’s facilities as “first class.” However, he did identify “tons of issues” that need addressing, and acknowledged that Foxconn may have prepared for the inspection.
In future, the FLA says it will conduct “bottom up interviews” as part of the audit that Foxconn won’t be expecting.