Foxconn has admitted to hire workers as young as 14 at its factories in Shandong province to ease its current labor shortage. The manufacturer said the minors will return to school and has formally apologized to them and to their parents. The Taiwan-based company published the results of an internal investigation, which has found its factories in Yantai hired over 3,000 young workers from local vocational schools. The students were aged between 14 and 16 and around 56 of them were less than 16 years old, in violation of national labor laws. Foxconn will dismiss the staff responsible for hiring underage workers …
The Yantai factory has been running round the clock over the past month to produce Nintendo’s new Wii U game console. To keep up with the orders, workers have only been permitted brief breaks and have had to work overtime and on weekends. One student said he wanted to take three days off but his teachers and supervisors at the factory kept delaying signing off on his leave. An administrator of a local Business Institute said the city government has requested all vocational schools to send students to work as interns at Foxconn’s factory to help the manufacturer overcome its labor shortage. The students had been working at the factory for one to three months and were assigned to assembly lines and logistics departments like adult workers.
These young interns often worked more than 12 hours a day and were not permitted to take leave. To meet the company’s large orders, they had to work night shifts from 8pm to 5am every three weeks. The student workers were paid 1,000 yuan (US$60) per month after accommodation and food costs were deducted. They could be paid up to 1,500 yuan (US$240) per month if they worked overtime, but most students wanted to get out the factory. According to China Labor Watch, the under-age interns were mainly sent to Foxconn by schools, but Foxconn did not check their IDs.
The schools involved in this incident should take the main responsibility, but Foxconn is also culpable for not confirming the ages of their workers. Companies do have a responsibility to check with the people that they are hiring are above that age. The difficulty is the enforcement of regulation which in China has been always a grey area, especially when Foxconn is always struggled to recruit not enough workers.
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