Group claims Foxconn hid ‘underage’ employees before FLA inspection

“Workers at Apple partner Foxconn have alleged that their employer transferred underage employees to other departments or did not schedule them to work overtime in order to avoid discovery during recent inspections by the Fair Labor Association, according to one non-governmental organization,” Josh Ong reports for AppleInsider.

“Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) project officer Debby Sze Wan Chan relayed the claims in a recent interview with AppleInsider,” Ong reports. “SACOM is a Hong Kong-based NGO that was formed in 2005 and has been researching labor rights violations in the electronics industry since 2007.”

Ong reports, “Chan said she had heard from two Foxconn workers in Zhenghou last week that the manufacturer was ‘prepared for the inspection’ by the Fair Labor Association that had been commissioned by Apple and began last week. ‘All underage workers, between 16-17 years old, were not assigned any overtime work and some of them were even sent to other departments,’ Chan reported the workers as having said… Apple’s supplier code of conduct allows for workers between 16 and 18 years old if they are legally allowed to work, but it requires special protections for those workers that limit how much and what kinds of work they are allowed to perform.”

MacDailyNews Take: If Apple’s supplier code of conduct allows for workers between 16 and 18 years old, then they are not “underage employees.” If such workers “were not assigned any overtime work” and “even sent to other departments,” then Foxconn looks to be adhering to Apple’s supplier code of conduct, not flouting it.

We now conclude our brief logic interlude and return you to the regularly scheduled anti-Apple FUD.

Full article here.

Related articles:
ABC News ‘Nightline’ airs report on Foxconn factories (with video) – February 22, 2012
ABC News granted exclusive access to Apple supplier Foxconn’s factories, to air report Feb. 21st – February 18, 2012

45 Comments

  1. If Apple had insisted that suppliers refrain from hiring 16-18 year olds in their supply chain (which it’s legal in that country), wouldn’t Apple then be guilty of discrimination?

    I know Apple couldn’t impose a policy like that over here (actively excluding a group of workers who are legally allowed to work).

    1. The question isn’t whether it’s legal in that country or not. The question is whether it is against the ethics of the company, and by extension, the consumers that buy the company’s products.

      Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right.

      1. Well…it’s legal in the US for teenagers to work at 15 and no one seems to mind that. If these 16-17 year olds want to work, I don’t know if it’s justifiable to forbid it.

        1. Yes, that’s true. However, there are still restrictions on how MUCH a 15-year old can work.

          I’m not against teenagers working. Take a read of the book Poorly Made In China. It’s an interesting read into how the manufacturing sector works. It’s a non-biased piece of work.

    2. This is called a ‘Hit Piece’ in journalism.

      Apple is the largest and most profitable tech company on the planet atm, (apologies to Microsoft, (cough *theives*, cough) and all the others techno losers).

      We can fully expect the ‘long knives’ to come out to try and take Apple down a few pegs by ‘competitors’ that feel threatened by Apple’s success.

      Apple’s ‘competition’ is fully capable of paying ‘journalists’ that are willing to paint Apple, or its supply chain, in a negative light.

      They’ll do anything they can to slow Apple down publicly, because they can’t compete technologically.

      The rule is: ‘If you can’t compete, obfuscate or misdirect. And if you can’t obfuscate or misdirect, then litigate.’

      As long you understand this, you’ll understand the NYT hit piece about Apple / Foxconn’s ‘labor practices’.

      1. The journalists don’t even need industry “incentives” to do these hit pieces. It’s generally understood that taking on a Goliath automatically makes you David. The myth of the intrepid reporter holds sway, and everyone roots for the underdog! Sales skyrocket!

        My, how times have changed. NOT! 

        May I remind everyone that even back when Apple was the underdog, the press was still a pack of jackals tearing at its throat. Apple fans fared worse; we were portrayed as simpletons, thralls of a counter-culture pied piper who threatened the comfortable status quo of bland look-alike products shoved at imaginary neoclassical consumers. The only difference now is that the products look like Apple’s.

        These small-minded journalists want excellence dead, for then they will be the shining ones. For shame!

    1. In the U.S., it’s only legal to work with a permit to work at the age of 16, and no more than 20 hours per week. The idea, you are supposed to be in school.

      However, in many countries throughout the world, school ends with the 8th grade. They are usually educated, by that end, with an equivalent to U.S. 2nd year community college or AA degree. Typically they will go to a trade school.

      Working in these factories is equivalent to learning a trade. They are at the end of their formal education, why not let them work? They are not US citizens, waiting until the 8th grade before picking up Algebra. They get it much earlier. Also these children are more mature, ready to leave home and a life of there own. They just live with mom and dad, to save money, even after marriage and children.

      1. It might be in the state you live in, but that’s not a federal regulation:

        from http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/agerequirements.htm
        “As a general rule, the FLSA sets 14 years of age as the minimum age for employment, and limits the number of hours worked by minors under the age of 16.”

        from http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/workpermitsagecert.htm
        “The federal government does not require work permits or proof-of-age certificates for a minor to be employed. Many states, however, do require them for workers of certain ages.”

  2. report based on 2 unamed workers? (out of like a million) unless the ‘group’ can show more concrete proof like evidence of the ‘hidden workers’, Foxconn records etc, i’ll take it with a pinch of salt. How do I know the two workers don’t have a grudge with Foxconn? If Foxconn had 10% unhappy workers that would be a potential 100k people with grudges.

    Also now that Foxconn workers know they get hefty pay raises (twice in the last year or something) whenever they play up to the press and ‘groups’ expect more complaints.

    Having worked in asia where lots of people are struggling and dollar is KING I believe there’s going to be lot more manipulation of the press etc. The workers (like I said I’ve worked there for years) are just as smart and determined to max out their pay like the Proview guys who sold the iPad trademark for around 50k and now want 2 billion.

    also last year another group accussed apple suppliers of environenmental problems which received widespread press. Today (now with apples suppliers list public) we know some of the suppliers did not even work for apple.

  3. Steve was definitely correct when he chose not to respond to the sensationalist crap. He would simply correct any deficiencies as he saw them when he was able to do it. When you play their word games, you lose. When you ignore the press, they just up their game more and more until you “eat babies and shit baby zombie zombie workers for your factories.” At that point you have won. Their bullshit gets so bat-shit crazy that no sensible person pays attention. Not unlike the politics is, these days.

    1. +1

      steve was a ‘star’ for a long time since he was a young man and he used to talk to the press a lot (hours long interviews) and he came to realize it was crap, they would edit everything to fit their agenda (like ‘bad boy wonder kid’ ). so finally he only dealt with press when he can control it like a product presentation.

      people don’t like to read stories about movie stars describing their acting ability but about trash in their lives like drugs, sex etc. So to make money the press writes ‘trash’. Same with the press on apple…

  4. Oh no.

    I had my 15, 13 and 12 year old kids cleaning out hog and horse stalls all summer long. They didn’t complain. (too much)

    Some of these people don’t know what “hard” work is.

    Try using a pitchfork on slightly moldy wet manure that weighs so much you can’t lift it if it’s too big a chunk. Then do that for 4 hours.

    1. Exactly!

      Aren’t there starving kids in other countries these investigators should be more concerned about than well paid Chinese factory workers?

      The plight of others where our focus should be? America isn’t immune to harsh working conditions. Investigate there.

      Public misperception and media ambulance chasing at its best.

    2. You love your children, right? You are teaching them good work habits, that’s good. You can’t compare that to children working in a factory.

      I’m not talking about Apple specifically here, just in general. If you put yourself in Foxconn’s shoes, of course, you will do everything in your power to portray a good image for a PLANNED visit. That’s just good business practice.

      1. These 16-17 year olds would either be doing this or backbreaking work on a farm 15 hours a day in the hot sun and/or starving to death. Since it’s legal for them to work, I’m not sure what the fuss is about.

  5. I also heard from a couple of workers that the alien workforce has been hidden from view, these off world workers are said to be working for as little as a bean a day.

    Go ahead prove me wrong.

  6. It’s surprising how quickly people rush to the defense of the manufacturer. Is it so inconceivable that Foxconn was tipped to the inspection date(s) & time(s) and was able to put labor violations out of sight? It happens everywhere.

    MDN – “underage” clearly refers to those who have special restrictions on their labor due to their age. No, temporarily transferring them out of an area they’re not supposed to be working in the first place (dangerous machinery, chemicals, etc.) during inspections to avoid detection of their violations is NOT “adhering.”

    Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. FLA must implement random/unannounced inspections to ensure standards are being followed, and allow independent teams to reduce the possibility of corruption.

    1. ‘put labor violations out of sight’ ?

      supposed the FLA who is conducting hundreds of interviews hears from a worker “they hid Loong… ”

      also
      “how quickly people rush to the defense of the manufacturer. ”

      I can also say ” how quickly people rush out to attack everything Apple does”.

      apple is the only tech company that joins FLA and FLA gets tarnished.
      they joined the FLA as their own audits, many down unannounced by independent auditors (200 plus audits last year), their discloscres of their audits, their publishing of their supplier lists, their allowing of a major news crew in etc is not enough.
      (go see if you can find Lenovo’s published audits)

      fact is to haters … NOTHING Apple will do will be enough.

    2. Except… that they have a hundred adults apply for every position they have open (at the standard wage) so I guess the logical question would be why would they risk hiring underage workers?

      Just like antenna-gate and all the rest in a long line of “created” issues it’s just typical Apple hater BS, that dosen’t even make sense when scrutinized.

  7. 16-18? When I think of underage child labor, I think of nine-year-olds working in sweatshops!

    At 16 years old, you should be learning how to be an adult.

    In the real world, adults work.

    I was doing hard labor at 12 years old, 40 hours a week during my summers, and bagging groceries on my weekends.

    It’s good for young people to work. It builds character, teaches them responsibility, and it’s good for the economy.

    Also, if they have cash that they have earned, less of them will turn to crime.

    1. Sorry… I didn’t start bagging groceries until I was 15.

      The hard labor I did was for my grandmother, who owned several rental properties and a small engine repair shop, and included mowing lawns, pulling tree stumps, gardening, and handyman-type activities.

      She was a great woman. She taught me how to use tools.

        1. Although I don’t disagree with you, I assure you, she treated me no differently than any of her other employees while I was on the clock.

          Off the clock of course, she did.

    2. @ TheConfuzed1 sez: “When I think of underage child labor, I think of nine-year-olds working in sweatshops!”

      I started working at age 15 on a night shift while still doing well in school. I was glad I could! I bought all sorts of kewl e- gadgetry with my income! I also learned all the things @TheConfused1 noted above. The 16-18 year old ‘underage’ claim has not got me sobbing.

      However, there is a lot more discussed in the source article than teens working ‘overtime’. I rant about it below.

  8. I claim that SACOM is an organization of pedophiles. Now, where’s my headline spread all over news sites????

    You can claim anything and dishonest people have been making claims about apple for 30 years.

  9. Do you really think this is the last time FLA will be inspecting Foxconn. This is just the start. After the main inspection there may be unscheduled ones to check on certain aspects such as correct use of workers between 16-18.

  10. Im sure Foxxcon is super eager to hire a bunch of kids and teenagers, because they are soooo skilled and reliable.

    What a load of crock. This was all planned by the Anti Apple Scheister PR Machine, probably well oiled by Gooooorggle.

    1. You do need small hands and the dexterity of the young to be able to assemble a cell phone by hand.

      You don’t want men at all. You also don’t want women in their 30s or older.

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