“Thousands of students in an east China city are being forced to work at a Foxconn plant after classes were suspended at the beginning of the new semester, it has been revealed,” Li Qian reports for Shanghai Daily. “Students from Huai’an in Jiangsu Province were driven to a factory in the city run by Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Company after the plant couldn’t find sufficient workers for the production of Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone 5, they said in online posts. A student majoring in computing at the Huaiyin Institute of Technology said 200 students from her school had been driven to the factory.”

Qian reports, “They started work on the production line last Thursday and were being paid 1,550 yuan (US$243.97) a month for working six days a week, she said. But they had to pay hundreds of yuan for food and accommodation, she said in an online post under the name of mengniuIQ84. Several other students from at least five colleges backed up what she said, saying they were being forced to work for 12 hours a day.”

“MengniuIQ84 wrote that the authorities had ordered the schools to send students to assist Foxconn but said that the factory neither informed parents nor signed agreements with students,” Qian reports. “One or two schools had canceled their internship programs with Foxcon after media exposure and pressure from the public, she said, but her institute had no plans to do so and had even punished students who had tried to leave the factory.”

“According to a China National Radio report, teachers from local schools admitted suspending routine classes over the next one or two months,” Qian reports. “They said the internships were a compulsory course for students to ‘experience working conditions and promote individual ability,’ the report said. The Huai’an Education Bureau said they were aware such programs ran during the summer break but did not know that schools had continued them into the new semester.”

Qian reports, “”An official, who refused to be named, said it was a common practice to send students to renowned companies and factories, something that served the enterprises and expanded students’ horizons, he said. ‘It’s hard for students to find jobs which are precisely related to their majors. Therefore, they are encouraged to go to factories to learn more about society,’ he said. However, Wu Dong, a lawyer, said the practice violated higher education laws and labor laws and the schools, education and labor rights authorities and Foxconn could be sued.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hey, whatever it takes. As long as we get our iPhone 5 units on schedule, no harm, no foul.

Joke.

We prefer to wait a bit to hear the rest of the story – surely there must be more to this – before opining on it, but here’s a bottom-line preview:

If true, terrible. Apple should do whatever they can to rectify the situation.
If not, yellow journalism. How much did _______ pay to plant this bit o’ FUD?