Apple investigating its Apple Watch assembler for illegally using high school students

The Apple Watch Series 4 is one of Apple’s hottest 2018 products and the company that’s contracted to assemble the devices can’t make them fast enough. A recent report, noticed by Financial Times, states that Quanta Computer, the company tasked to meet the enormous demand for the Apple Watch, used underaged workers in its factories illegally. The information triggered a response from Apple, forcing it to investigate the allegations.

The report comes from human rights group Sacom, which interviewed 28 students at a Quanta Computer factory in China. The students were sent by their teachers for internships, which is legal, but very limited in terms of what they can be doing at the factory and for how long. The students said that the tasks they performed were no different than those of regular workers and they had to work overtime and even during the night, which is not permitted by law. The “interns” stuck to the grueling work schedule because their teachers warned them that they won’t be able to graduate unless they complete the so-called internship.

According to one of the interviewed students, there were “about 120 students” from his school working on the same floor of Quanta’s factory. Describing their work at the factory, the students said: “We repeat the same procedure for hundreds of thousands of times every day, like a robot”. Presumably so they can attend classes, the students were scheduled to work between 8 PM and 8 AM, six days a week.

Apple’s response on the matter was the following: “We are urgently investigating the report that student interns added in September are working overtime and night shifts. We have zero tolerance for failure to comply with our standards and we ensure swift action and appropriate remediation if we discover [supplier code] violations.”

The practice is nothing new or unusual for China, due to the uneven demand for the products that the factories are making hiring temporary workers during peak capacity months is standard within the industry. However, manufacturers are often having trouble finding the necessary amount of workers, which forces them to resort to “interns”.

This is not the first time Quanta Computer has to answer for its illegal practices, previous investigations involved similar activities. Hopefully, Apple’s involvement will bring some changes to the companies that are depending on it for their success.

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