Apple, the tech giant, has been making 3,000 interns do illegal overtime for speeding up the launch of its prestigious iPhone X, according to a report by the Financial Times.
The report said that students from China's Rail Transit School were assigned to work at a local assembling factory run by Taiwan-based Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn.
According to the Financial Times' report, the students were made to work for 11 hours a day in the factory, disregarding Chinese labour laws. Yang, one among the six students, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying that they were forced by their schools to work in the factory as part of a compulsory internship. “I assembled up to 1,200 iPhone X cameras a day even though work has nothing to do with our studies," Yan, who refused to use her first name fearing the consequences, was quoted as saying by the report.
The school has refused to comment on the issue.
Both Apple and Foxconn denied the allegations of forced overtime and said that the students were doing overtime "voluntarily".
However, Apple acknowledged instances of illegal overtime by students. Apple in a statement said that an audit has revealed “instances of student interns working overtime at a supplier facility in China”, adding “we’ve confirmed the students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime”.
The Apple X reached the market in November due to production glitches early in its manufacturing process. According to the report, long-term employees of Foxconn said that hiring of students has been a usual practice for the company, especially during busy seasons.
Jenny Chan, assistant professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying that the practice of
doing things ‘just in time’ to reduce the cost leads to the demand for seasonal labourers, which are usually fulfilled by exploiting the students.