CHINESE MANUFACTURING FIRM Foxconn has revealed that an internal investigation has uncovered employment of underage workers at one of its campuses.
The company told The INQUIRER that it carried out the investigation to confirm reports in the media about 14 year olds at one of its plants. It said that the workers aged between 14 and 16 were in its "short-term student internship programme". According to its statement, this should not be considered a good thing.
"An internal investigation carried out by our company has confirmed media reports in China that some participants in the short-term student internship programme that is administered at our campus in Yantai, Shandong Province are under the legal working age of 16 years," it said.
"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. We are also carrying out a full investigation, in cooperation with the respective educational institutions, to determine how this happened and the actions that must be taken by our company to ensure that it can never happen again."
According to the statement the presence of underage workers is limited to the one campus and should be viewed as an isolated problem. The firm said that it was not intentional, and would come down on any further violations that it finds.
"Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks. We have found no evidence of similar violations in any of our other campuses in China but we will not hesitate to take immediate action in any campus if any violations are discovered," continued the statement.
"In addition to returning the students to their educational institution, Foxconn will work with the local government to ensure that the future participation of these schools in the internship programme is only done after it has been determined that they are in compliance with China's labor law and Foxconn policies."
The firm took full responsibility for the violations and said that it has apologised to the students that were involved. It is not clear how they came to be working at the campus, and Foxconn said that the internship programme is carried out in partnership with educational establishments.
It added that the schools recruit those students that take part in its internship programme. µ
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