Foxconn Employees Say Underage Workers Were Hidden Before FLA Inspection

Foxconn Employees Say Underage Workers Were Hidden Before FLA Inspection

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.

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  • joewaylo

    Not sure what they have to hide from workers 16-18 other than underpaid. FLA’s child labor regulations are spelled out under ILO 138. http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/pro
    Article 2.3
    3. The minimum age specified in pursuance of paragraph 1 of this Article shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and, in any case, shall not be less than 15 years.

    Unless they’re violating other material on their PDF listed on page 3:
    http://cms.standardsmap.org/pu

  • joewaylo

    So what do they have to hide? According to FLA’s website, “No person shall be employed under the age of 15 or under the age for completion of compulsory education, whichever is higher” They are 16-17, unless they have not completed education, so they haven’t that to hide.

    Only thing to hide is those 16-17 year olds are still underpaid.

  • FriarNurgle

    Duh. 

  • Killer_Kadoogan

    It’s legal for 16 and 17 year olds to work in the UK. There are some additional rules that apply until they are 18, but they could be working in a factory like this. Can’t understand why Foxconn would be so desperate to hide them. Anyone under 16 I’d have more problems with. Also anyone forced to work there by parents etc, but as we have seen people seem very keen to get jobs there. It would be nice if shifts were shorter. Most factory jobs are incredibly tedious, whether they are in China or anywhere else.

    Overall though I’d still like to see how employees working on Apple production lines compare to those making products for the multitude of other companies. Also how they compare to non-Foxconn factories. I suspect I already know the answer to that. It would be nice for some of the other chinese factory workers to get some attention for a change, but then I guess the anti-Apple coolness factor is too strong for that.

  • Boris Terekidi

    What’s wrong with working at the age of 16-17? In Canada, we have high school students work in factories as summer jobs.

  • baby_Twitty

    Nothing very wrong, as; “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”.

    However, they could have been working there out of their physical working-capacity or, not given the proper breaks or salary by Foxconn as REQUIRED by Apple and the Labour law.

  • HammerOfTruth

    Well, we will see if the FLA investigates everything or if it’s all just a sham.  On the Nightline piece, Auret van Heerden, said that whatever Foxconn tries to hide will bubble up to the surface and will be revealed.  Let’s hope that whatever bad things they try to hide, comes out.

    It’s important to note that Bill Weir stated that Apple is not the only company that does business with Foxconn at that plant. Nintendo, Dell, Intel, HP, and others are also made there, but we haven’t heard a thing from them.

  • Steve Smith

    I believe point is they can only work so many hours a week while and they are working way more then that.

  • sir1jaguar

    The MOST STUPID investigation – FOXCONN expecting FLA for more than a week before the official visit…

    So to those people will still defend APPLE – F.U.

    THEY HIDE EVERYTHING THAT WILL MAKE APPLE EVIL…even they are!!!

  • Boltar

    Obviously until surprise inspections and records checks happen, we don’t really know anything. Too bad most of us now have the patience of a gnat and jump the gun in railing.

    Chinese labor practices have been a problem since before WalMart pushed most of its suppliers to move manufacturing to China. STILL waiting for Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and company to stop hiding in the corners and staring at their shoes. But it doesn’t seem like the public furor is going to demand all responsible parties to belly up to the bar. I guess when it comes to fair labor practices we all now believe it’s From each according to his ability.

  • Jonathan Wong

    Now, I’m no Apple product owner but Foxconn didn’t do it to protect Apple.  They did it to protect themselves.  They want Apple to continue doing business with them.  Please don’t let bias cloud your judgment of others

  • ekokmle

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    Lee Kok Meng
    MITM (UNIRAZAK), B.Eng (UKM), Exec Dip. Purchasing & SCM (UUM), UK CIPS Level 5

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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