Foxconn has admitted to finding underage interns as young as 14 working in one of its Chinese plants, where the minimum legal working age is 16. The company, which assembles Apple’s hugely popular iOS devices, has sent all underage workers back to their schools, and it’s now investigating how they were ended up at its plant.
Foxconn didn’t disclose how many underage workers it found at its factory in the eastern city of Yantai, but it did warn that any employee responsible for hiring underage workers will have their contract terminated.
“We recognize that full responsibility for these violations rests with our company and we have apologized to each of the students for our role in this action,” Foxconn said in a statement on Tuesday. “Any Foxconn employee found, through our investigation, to be responsible for these violations will have their employment immediately terminated.”
China Labor Watch, a labor rights group, said that while the primary responsibility for these underage workers lies with their schools, “Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers.”
Foxconn is one of China’s biggest employers, with around 1.2 million workers across the country. However, its practices have been under scrutiny in recent times as its poor working conditions and worker mistreatment have become more and more public.
Apple has been working with the company to make improvements, and while their progress has not gone unnoticed, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Back in September, more than 2,000 Foxconn workers were involved in a brawl — reportedly over iPhone 5 production pressures — that resulted in 40 people injured and several reported dead.
Foxconn also assembled products for a number of other high-profile companies, including Microsoft, Nintendo, Dell, Toshiba, Nokia, and more. It’s unclear what the underage workers were building.
Source: USA Today.