Apple supplier Foxconn has reportedly employed thousands of students to assemble iPhone X who are being forced to work overtime.
Foxconn says it has stopped interns from working illegal overtime at its factory in China, after reports emerged that at least six students worked eleven-hour days on iPhone X production lines, that are used to assemble technology products for some of the world’s biggest companies.
Reports revealed around 3,000 students worked at its iPhone X assembly plant in Zhengzhou, as the firm struggles to catch up with demand for the smartphone after production delays.
Six students told the newspaper that they regularly work 11-hour shifts assembling Apple’s new iPhone X, which is a breach of Chinese labour law. The Financial Times said that a group of 3,000 interns worked in Foxconn’s factories.
The students, who were reportedly aged between 17 and 19, told that their work at Foxconn was work experience that they had to do in order to complete their education.
Foxconn has told that it has ended its practice of letting interns work overtime. The company reportedly said that it took “immediate action to ensure that no interns are carrying out any overtime work,” and claimed that “interns represent a very small percentage” of its overall workforce.
Foxconn is thought to hire large numbers of seasonal workers each year to assemble the latest iPhone models in time for the busy holiday shopping season. The FT report, citing an anonymous Foxconn employee, said there can be up to 300,000 workers producing up to 20,000 iPhones per day. However, this year it appears the manufacturer has found it particularly challenging to keep up with demand for the iPhone X, which Apple has described as being “off the charts”.
Apple told sources that it is “dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We know our work is never done and we’ll continue to do all we can to make a positive impact and protect workers in our supply chain.”
Apple had to ask Chinese mining company Huayou to stop using child labour after Sky News found it was using children aged four to mine for the material.
Foxconn has faced its own issues in the past: In 2010 a series of employees committed suicide after working long hours in the factory, which eventually lead to the company erecting suicide nets on its buildings to prevent future deaths.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo covers Apple’s supply chain in Asia and regularly covered delays with the iPhone X. He said that Apple faced shortages on key components of the device, which meant that it struggled to get the phones it needed ready for when it went on sale.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about the potential of delays to the iPhone X. The executive gave a rather diplomatic answer: “We’ll see what happens, but we’ll be working as hard as possible to make as many as possible.
However, several media reports claimed that Apple is facing a huge supply gap primarily for two reasons: difficulties in assembling the new facial identification software and 3D camera, and “off the charts” pre-orders for iPhone X after the Apple fraternity didn’t make the expected beeline for iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
Analysts had warned that the stock on hand is scarce, owing to constrained supply of key iPhone X components. The iPhone X, which marks the 10th anniversary of the device, costs Rs 89,000 for a 64 GB model and Rs 1.02 lakh for the 256 GB variant.
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