Apple confirms that illegal labour was involved in iPhone X production plant

Thursday, 23 Nov, 2017

Foxconn and Apple acknowledge that student interns are working overtime, albeit "voluntarily" and in excess of 40-hours a week.

Working 11 hour shifts at a factory in Zhengzhou, China, six high school students were cited in a report by Financial Times on Tuesday who said they were employed to assemble the iPhone X.

Foxconn reiterated Apple's statement to the Financial Times, saying "all work was voluntary and compensated appropriately" but "the interns did work overtime in violation of our policy".

According to the Financial Times, high-school students are routinely working 11-hour days to assemble parts for the iPhone X at a factory in Zhengzhou, China. The iPhone X - priced starting at $1,000, it's Apple's most expensive smartphone ever - has a almost full edge-to-edge 5.8-inch screen, an advanced camera system, and a new facial-recognition feature used to unlock the device.

Declining to reveal her full name, fearing punishment, she added, "The work has nothing to do with our studies".

Apple and Foxconn said they had discovered instances of students working overtime at their facilities. 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. The interns also constitute "a very small percentage of the workforce", the representative said.

Since 2012 Apple says it has reduced the number of underage workers in its extended supply chain, which includes locations where rare earth minerals are mined for use in the smartphones. Plants where Apple products were manufactured also saw a series of suicides in 2010-2011. In 2014, a BBC investigative report found Apple's standards for protecting workers at Chinese facilities were being violated.

Student labor is not illegal in China. It has been learnt that electronics contract manufacturing company Foxconn employs teen labour on illegal working hours to meet demand for the device. Previous reports claimed that the supply of iPhone X units will be extremely limited until next year, with only half of the expected iPhone X supply to be made available this year.

Apple's decision to release three new phones this year, instead of the usual two models, has seen a surge in demand for the most expensive - the iPhone X. Sales of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, have stagnated.