Electronics manufacturer Foxconn has come under fire again, specifically in the Chinese factory that assembles Apple’s iPhones. The New York Times reports that the company has been accused of “compelling” students to work at its assembly plant, a charge that Foxconn denies.
Foxconn claims that “interns” can be found on the assembly lines but are free to go whenever they choose. At the same time, representatives for advocacy group China Labor Watch claim to have spoken with students who say they are being made to work on the line by their teachers.
Li Qiang, founder of Child Labor Watch, says vocational students spent time at Foxconn to learn, not work. However, Li claims, those students are told they will not graduate unless they work on the line.
A Foxconn representative told The Times that interns represent 2.7 percent of his company’s workforce in China, all of whom are recruited “under the supervision of the local government, and the schools also assign teachers to accompany and monitor the students throughout their internship.”
Late last year, the Fair Labor Association worked closely with Apple to investigate and ensure fair working conditions at Foxconn’s China factories. Apple has also posted “Supplier Responsibilities” to its website.