It has been revealed that thousands of students in an east China city are being forced to work at a Foxconn plant after classes were suspended at the beginning of the new semester. Students from Huai’an in Jiangsu Province were driven to Foxconn factory after the plant couldn’t find sufficient workers for the production of Apple’s upcomimg iPhone 5. A student majoring in computing at a Technology Institute said they started work on the production line last Thursday and were being paid 1,550 yuan (US$243.97) a month for working six days a week. But they had to pay hundreds of yuan for food and accommodation. Several other students from at least five colleges backed up, they were being forced to work for 12 hours a day …
A Huai’an University student said Foxconn was badly in need of 10,000 workers but students were looking forward to returning to classrooms to continue their academic studies which had been seriously disrupted. The authorities had ordered the schools to send students to assist Foxconn but said that the factory neither informed parents nor signed agreements with students. One or two schools had canceled their internship programs with Foxcon after local media has reported the news. Some institute had even punished students who had tried to leave the factory and requested to delete their words and comments on SINA weibo, the nation biggest social network.
According to one of the Chinese media report, teachers from local schools admitted suspending routine classes over the next one or two months. They said the internships were a compulsory course for students to “experience working conditions and promote individual ability”. An official, who refused to be named, said it was a common practice to send students to renowned companies and factories, something which can served the enterprises, in an attempt to gain favor with the company which has helped to boost the local GDP. China lawyer said such practice has violated higher education laws and labor laws, and the schools, education and labor rights authorities and Foxconn could be sued.
While getting pressure from the public, school in Huai’an have started to bring back students, who were forced to work at Foxconn factory and suspend their academic studies for the upcoming new semester. The local government has ordered higher education institutions to strictly follow the policies and correct the violations. But students who volunteered to do internship in the factory could stay. The government neither gave any clarification on the students’ allegations nor revealed details of the schools’ violations. Some students have returned to classes, yet hundreds of students are still working in the factory.
Foxconn’s internship programs came under some fairly harsh criticism in the Fair Labor Association’s Foxconn Investigation report, with interns found to be working much as employees, with long hours and sometimes lax documentation. The Verge has received an official statement from Foxconn, saying “there was no evidence to indicate that any of the interns were pressured to participate in or to continue to participate in any internship program.” In the meantime, students and parents still accused the local government of forcing schools to send massive labor to Foxconn. We believe this kind of bizarre and troubling story from China will be getting more once iPhone 5 hit the market.
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