Some workers at Chinese Apple product producing Foxconn facilities are reporting that child labourers have been hidden during inspections by the Fair Labour Association.
While children ages 16 and 17 are allowed to work in China, there are strict limits on how long their days are and the specific jobs they can perform. Revealed by employees at a plant that produces iPhone, iPad and Xbox hardware through the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) organisation, it looks like those regulations might have been broken.
"All underage workers, between 16-17 years old, were not assigned any overtime work and some of them were even sent to other departments," reported SACOM project officer Debbi Sze Wan Chan. She also relayed claims that the facility and others like it had been "prepared for the inspection" by the FLA - originally requested by Apple to clear up claims that its employees' working conditions breached human rights laws.
Before his demise, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying how wonderfully well equipped Apple suppliers' factories were and that employees were well cared for. Reports from many media outlets however have been in line with Chan's own findings, where she describes those working at Foxconn facilities as resembling "machines," and that they wake up, line up "for baths and work, work and go back to the dormitory and sleep."
One of the more worrying things in the SACOM report however is the use of involuntary student labour. Apparently local Chinese government often requires schools send students to perform factory labour as part of internships - even if the job is unrelated to their studies or chosen career path.
It was recently announced that Amazon could be set to have its own business partnership with Foxconn. Considering the spotlight that's been on its own practices regarding workers and the conditions they work in, no prizes for guessing what will come of that relationship.