Chinese students "forced" to work at Foxconn, build iPhone X

Frederick Owens
November 23, 2017

Both Apple and Foxconn acknowledged that they were aware of the students working overtime, and said they were investigating the matter.

According to The Financial Times, students in the age group 17-19 were hired as interns in September and were told to work at the assembling unit in Zhengzhou, China, to work for three months to get "work experience in order to graduate". Because the workers are classed as students, the overtime is illegal. 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.

According to the students, they were forced by their school to work in the Foxconn factory in a three-month internship that had nothing to do with their studies. At the time Cook and senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams said in an internal email they were "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain or mislead our customers in any way".

The Cupertino-based company launched its iPhone X on November 3.

Apple said specialists are on site working with management to ensure proper standards are followed. Foxconn has been in the news several times over the past few years for the brutal treatment of its employees, famously driving so many to commit suicide that the company had to install suicide nets outside its factory windows.

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Foxconn said company policy doesn't allow interns, who represent a "very small" percentage of its workforce, to work more than 40 hours a week on "program-related assignments".

The report cited only six workers out of the thousands working at the facility.

Ultimately it's about production needs. It said it has taken action to correct the situation.

The iPhone X supply problem stems from issues with its TrueDepth camera system along with its more complicated assembly process. Not long after CEO Tim Cook said the iPhone X is "a value price, actually", Best Buy, one of its biggest retail partners, announced it would not sell the new mobile devices outright because consumers complained they were too expensive.

Apple is frequently forced to answer questions raised by its suppliers' treatment of workers in China.

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