Apple’s main supplier — Foxconn — is under fire after it reportedly violated China’s overtime law by hiring 3,000 high-school student interns to assemble the iPhone X, Financial Times reports. Students in the city of Zhengzhou claim to have been working for up to 11 hours a day to put together the devices.
The publication interviewed six students who claim their school forced them to work at the factory, as a “work experience” requirement. Even though it had nothing to do with what they were actually studying, they reportedly had to complete the three-month period of work in order to graduate.
In the months leading up to the iPhone X release, there were various reports of production delays — mainly with its Face ID feature. Rumors surfaced of shipping delays due to the Face ID sensor taking more time to assemble than expected. Other reports claimed suppliers were reducing Face ID accuracy in order to speed up production.
Other reports included delayed arrival, with customers not receiving their devices until as late as December. But after pre-orders launched, there were multiple reports of people receiving their iPhone X as early as November 6.
One student told the Financial Times that she was assembling up to 1,200 iPhone X cameras per day. While the school declined to comment, both Apple and Foxconn acknowledged there were cases of student interns working overtime, and that they were taking action to solve the situation.
Apple then confirmed that there were students working overtime, but voluntarily. The company also stated the students were compensated and provided benefits, but should not have been allowed to work for more than 40 hours a week.
The Financial Times also spoke to a Foxconn employee who has worked with the supplier for a long time. According to the employee, the Zhengzhou factory hires students every year between August and December during its busiest season.
The Foxconn employee also said the numbers at the plant apparently exceed 300,000 workers, producing up to 20,000 iPhones per day. But this year, the number was greater when it came to the need for seasonal workers.
Foxconn’s response on the matter was similar to Apple’s. The supplier stated that all the work was voluntary and the interns were compensated appropriately but they did work more than 40 hours per week.
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