Foxconn's interns: underage and very cheap

Foxconn is the massive Taiwanese-owned, electronics manufacturing firm that assembles - among other products - Apple's iPhones in many of its China-based plants. In September, "Voice of China reported on the fact that large numbers of students from secondary technical schools in Jiangsu Province had been forced to do internships at Foxconn factories." In response, Foxconn said students could end their internship and leave the plants.

Despite the unwelcome glare of publicity, Foxconn has apparently continued to either keep or recruit more young students - some of them as young as 14. Forced by China Labor Watch to admit the practice, Foxconn told Bloomberg News today that "A 'small number' of interns sent by schools and employed at Yantai (northeast China) over the summer were 14 to 16 years of age..."

China Labor Watch said on October 16 that its reporter found that some "students worked as normal workers in the factory, regularly working overtime and night shifts. Many of these students said they wished to return to school, but their teachers threatened them, saying 'if you don't intern, then you won't get any credit, won't receive a graduation diploma, or may even be kicked out of school'."

China Labor Watch found that many are forced to work nights and weekends. In a conversation with these interns, their reporter asked "How many days of rest do you get in a month?"

The answer was, "Not even one."

These findings show that the world's NGOs and media - including Chinese media - cannot alone end labor abuse. We also need labor unions empowered to both watch and take steps to force management to end such practices.

China Labor Watch news (October 16, 2012)

Foxconn Says Underage Interns Worked at Yantai in China
(Bloomberg News, Oct. 16, 2012)

Investigation Confirms Underaged Workers at Foxconn Facility (Mac Observer, Oct. 16, 2012)