- Foxconn has been relying on student labor working illegal overtime to rush assembly of the iPhone X as it labors to meet insatiable demand despite production delays, the Financial Times reported.
- The students worked 11 hour-days. Although the workers were compensated and allegedly worked voluntarily, the overtime violates both Apple and Foxconn worker contracts.
- The students claim they were forced by their university to work at Foxconn in order to earn working experience, regardless of their field of study. The university responded to a government request for labor in the local effort to support Foxconn's work with Apple.
Issues with Foxconn's work for Apple are ongoing, from the rash of suicides by exhausted workers in 2014 to the current cost of delays depressing the company's stock value by a whopping 39%. Despite these disasters, the pair maintain their relationship, perhaps thanks to the $1.5 billion in support given to Foxconn to bring its Apple-bearing factory to the Zhengzhou region.
Now we're seeing a repeat of previous misbehavior, despite prior efforts on the part of both companies to address human rights problems within the supply chain. Alleged labor violation crackdowns by Apple have not been enough to restrict abuse by suppliers, no matter the value of Apple's business to the company in question. Though both Apple and Foxconn have publicly addressed the matter by admitting the students should not have worked overtime, on the subject of forced labor both have remained silent, as have both the the local and state governments in China.
Outside auditors beholden to neither company are required to confirm a safe, legal working environment where employees' rights are respected. Until that effort is made, pledges to demand higher standards of sustainability on the part of its suppliers seem like little more than lip service to ethics by Apple. Training an exhausted worker about the value of green technology is futile. Avoiding repetitious human rights violations is not.