The new Apple iPhone 5 is now for sale. It is made in China.
Advocates are saying that two factories in China are using forced labor to make the iPhones. A government news agency says that hundreds of vocational school students are working on assembly lines to ease a shortage of workers.
Foxconn manages the factories and says its student “interns” can leave at any time. Foxconn said the schools recruit the students. Local governments supervise the program. Schools send teachers to monitor the program.
The factory is in Huai’an, in eastern China. Another factory in Zhengzhou, in north-central China is said by advocates to also be using students.
One critic said about the students, “They do not want to work there – they want to learn. But if they do not work, they will not graduate. It is a very busy time with the new iPhone coming. Foxconn does not have enough workers without the students.”
Foxconn and other companies that make electronic products are often charged with exploiting workers. Many investigations lead to changes in working conditions and wages.
Still, the recent charge that some students are made to work standing up for 10 hours a day is making headlines. Advocates say the students are told, “they cannot leave, that they must work or they will be dismissed from school.”
Observers say the huge demand for new Apple products is the reason factories must quickly increase their number of workers. The Apple Company would not comment on the charges. They said Chinese companies must follow local labor laws.