The world’s most valuable company is once again facing allegations of exploiting Chinese laborers. According to a report published by a labor rights group, one of Apple’s suppliers illegally forced high school students to assemble Apple Watches at a factory in China.
According to the report, students aged sixteen to nineteen in the city of Chongqing were placed in mandatory school internships at the watch factory run by Quanta Computer. Further, the students were forced to work excessive and overnight shifts, with only one day off per week. In addition, the school threatened students that they would not graduate on time if they refused to work in the factory, even if the work did not relate to their major.
This is not the first time that Apple has come under fire for illegal labor practices. In 2017, students were discovered working more than eleven hours a day as part of a “voluntary” school internship program at an iPhone X plant in Shenzen run by Foxconn. In 2014, a report revealed that another supplier factory in Suqian was guilty of workplace violations including excessive hours, locked exits, and inadequate ventilation. Moreover, Apple faced global scrutiny after a spate of suicides by young workers at Foxconn in 2010.
Since the 2017 Foxconn scandal, Apple has required its suppliers to limit student interns at factories to no more than 10% of their total workforce. It enlisted the Fair Labor Association in 2012 to conduct regular audits of its suppliers. Unfortunately, these latest allegations suggest that Apple is still profiting from the exploitation of young Chinese workers.
Apple’s humanist brand has made it an icon of Silicon Valley. However, under that sleek surface, Apple has a rotten core assembled in China.