Skip to main content

Foxconn admits using underage interns in China

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
October 17, 2012 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
Apple CEO Tim Cook tours a Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China in March.
Apple CEO Tim Cook tours a Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China in March.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Foxconn admitted that interns as young as 14 worked at one of its Chinese plants.
  • Chinese law prohibits workers younger than 16 from working in the factories
  • The interns worked for about three weeks at Foxconn's Yantai manufacturing plant
  • Foxconn is the world's largest electronics manufacturer with clients like Apple and Samsung

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Foxconn Technology Group -- the world's largest electronics manufacturer and supplier to companies like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft -- admitted that interns as young as 14 worked at one of its Chinese plants.

"An internal investigation carried out by our company has confirmed media reports in China that some participants in the short-term student internship program that is administered at our campus in Yantai, Shandong Province are under the legal working age of 16 years," the company said in a statement. "This is not only a violation of China's labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions."

The underage interns had worked at the plant for about three weeks, the company said. No evidence was found at other plants in China, the company added.

Opinion: U.S. misses full truth on China factory workers

Foxconn is one of the world's largest suppliers of components for the electronics industry. Much of its manufacturing division is based in mainland China, where it assembles a range of products including Apple's iPhone and iPad, Amazon's Kindle and Microsoft's Xbox.

Apple supplier progress in China
Rare look inside Foxconn factory campus
Audit of Foxconn finds major violations
Auditors inspect Apple's China supplier

Interns represent about 2.7% of Foxconn's 1.2 million employees in China.

The report was the latest in a string of incidents for Foxconn. Earlier this month, workers rights groups and Chinese state media reported work stoppage at a Zhengzhou plant regarding "overly strict demands" for production of Apple's iPhone. The company disputed reports of a "strike," but admitted employee "disputes." Last month, a factory in Taiyuan was shut down for a day after a large-scale brawl sent 40 people to the hospital.

Working conditions at Foxconn factories have been under the spotlight since a 2010 spate of worker suicides at its plants. Foxconn said it had increased workers pay, introduced counselors, started a 24-hour phone counseling service and opened a stress room where workers can take out frustration on mannequins with bats.

The Fair Labor Association -- an industry-funded labor watchdog whose membership includes Apple, a large customer of Foxconn -- released a report in August that Foxconn has moved to bring working hours including overtime down to below 60 hours per week "with the goal of reaching full compliance with the Chinese legal limit of 40 hours per week, plus an average of 9 hours of overtime per week while protecting worker compensation."

"Immediate health and safety measures" had been made, such as enforcement of breaks, changing equipment design to reduce repetitive stress injuries and testing of emergency equipment like eyewashes and sprinklers, the August report said.

An explosion last year at a Foxconn plant that makes Apple's iPad2 in Chengdu killed four people and injured 18 more. Chinese officials said the blast may have been caused by combustible dust in a polishing workshop. That incident followed a report by a labor group alleging that workers at the same plant do not have adequate training in the use of chemicals and do not have regular on the job health checks.

In June: Police, company investigates Foxconn death

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
Jim Boulden on the future of online shopping.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0842 GMT (1642 HKT)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing uncomfortable questions, David Clark writes.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 0902 GMT (1702 HKT)
Macau has overtaken Switzerland in the wealth stakes, being named the world's fourth richest territory by the World Bank.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
Saudi Arabian Bateel brand is best known for its delectable dates but it now has more than a dozen cafes and a new bakery in the works.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material. It is so dark the human eye can't discern its shape and form.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
Jibo robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members. CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 2109 GMT (0509 HKT)
American burger joints have sprung up all over London, but how to know which ones are best? CNN's Jim Boulden investigates.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
At the last football World Cup, it was all about 3D. This time around, it's nothing less than 4K.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Bob Mazzer has photographed inside London's Tube network for 40 years. He's captured history.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1712 GMT (0112 HKT)
Exotic animals are becoming a profitable business opportunity for Nicaraguan entrepreneurs. CNN's Rafael Romo reports.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels per day and has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. But the current crisis is putting all this in danger.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
The gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Europe. Explore this map to find out why is the EU nervous.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Bob Mazzer has photographed inside London's Tube network for 40 years. He's captured history.
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
The UK capital promotes its tech stars and shows it can compete with Silicon Valley. Here are five companies that pitch to make it big.
ADVERTISEMENT