Just in time for Apple's new iPhone announcement today comes another set of claims of bad labor practices at the Foxconn factories in China, where many of the Cupertino computer company's products are made. The latest charge? They've been using vocational students, or "interns," on the factory line. Foxconn fabulist Mike Daisey, who previously brought much attention to the working conditions in Foxconn's Chinese factories, is probably having a mixed reaction to these claims.
Multiple advocacy groups in China are now reporting that they have "spoken with students who said they had been forced by their teachers to assemble iPhones at a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, in north-central China." Not helping things? Foxconn has previously admitted to using student "interns" on the lines, but says "they are free to leave at any time." Foxconn, just like the Hotel California!
Oh, and Chinese state-run news media also reported on vocational students being forced to work the factory. And when Chinese state-run media is reporting things like that... "They don’t want to work there—they want to learn," Li Qiang, founder of China Labor Watch, told the Times. "But if they don’t work, they are told they will not graduate, because it is a very busy time with the new iPhone coming, and Foxconn does not have enough workers without the students."
This isn't close to the first time that Foxconn, which produces electronics for a number of companies besides Apple, has come under scrutiny for its labor practices and it certainly won't be the last. Especially not when Apple has a regular supply of new products to release into the wild. But do expect to see more calls for Apple (and, to a lesser degree, its peers) to try and find a way to produce their products without all the horrible labor practices.