Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles almost all of Apple’s most popular devices, has admitted that it has forced student interns to work illegal shift patterns.
Thousands of students from the Xi’an Institute of Technology were made to work overtime and night shifts at the plant in violation of company policies. And if they refused to do so, they were in danger of losing their degree certificate.
“(We) have determined that there have been a few instances where our policies pertaining to overtime and night shift work were not enforced,” Foxconn said in a statement to CNBC after the allegations were printed in Chinese newspaper Dongfang Daily.
“Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies. These actions include reinforcing the policies of no overtime and no night shifts for student interns, even though such work is voluntary, and reminding all interns of their rights to terminate their participation in the program at any time.”
Foxconn insists its priority is to protect the rights of all workers and interns, and says it will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. The company’s policy states that student participation is voluntary, and that they are free to terminate their internship at any time.
It’s thought the interns were all working on Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 ahead of its launch this fall.
This isn’t the first time that Foxconn has been at the center of worker mistreatment allegations. Late last year, the company admitted to using interns as young as 14, and it has been under scrutiny for several years for the harsh working conditions in its Chinese factories, where more than 20 workers have taken their own lives in the past six years.
Apple has since stepped in and vowed to help Foxconn improve the situation.