Apple’s supply chain is again under scrutiny after students were found working their backs off
Getting the best out of students has been interpreted differently at one of Apple’s major manufacturing partners, Foxconn, after a group of six students were found to be working more than 11
hours a day.
Well, the fact is that employing students to work on factories in Zhengzhou, China is not actually an uncommon practice back there. Most schools in the region encourage (a mild word in some
cases for sure) their students to engage in these “work experiences” that involve being employed by the company for a short period of time during which they have to be properly compensated.
In this case, according to Apple’s statement, the students actually choose to voluntarily work more hours than those permitted by law, which is a maximum of 40 per week, but the company
shouldn’t have allowed such situation to occur.
This is where it gets tricky, as companies can work their way around these legal ‘obstacles’ to increase the size of their workforce during busy seasons such as this one, when the iPhone X is being
rushed to the stores to supply its “off the charts” demand.
Apple has experienced similar situations in the past and it has been accused of intentionally looking the other way when it comes to labor law’s violations during heavy production seasons. Li
Qiang, the founder of China Labor Watch, a non-profit organization that tracks corporation’s compliance with local labor laws has said in this regard that “Ultimately it’s about production needs.
From Apple’s actions, it seems like they don’t care about the labor standards they set previously”.
The company has assured the public that they are “dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve”, adding that they had “confirmed the
students worked voluntarily, were compensated and provided benefits, but they should not have been allowed to work overtime”.
As the demand for the iPhone X surges and Apple pushes its manufacturers to increase output, regulators will surely keep close watch of what’s happening, as such situations might become a
recurrent practice if no counter-measures are implemented timely.
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