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Foxconn Allegedly Hid Underage Workers During Inspection

Debby Sze Wan Chan, project officer of Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), alleged in a recent interview that Foxconn moved its underage workers to other departments, or did not scheduled them to work at all, when the Fair Labor Association (FLA) made its Apple-commissioned inspections last week.

The news arrives by way of two Foxconn workers stationed in Zhenghou who said the company "prepared for the inspection" beforehand. They told Chan that those aged 16 and 17 were not assigned any overtime work that day while others in the same age group were shuffled off to other departments.

Another Foxconn worker, stationed in Chengdu, also told Chan that she is now allowed three breaks a day thanks to the FLA audit. Prior to the inspection, she was only allowed one break per day (actual hours were not provided). That said, all three workers seemingly back up a comment by FLA president Auret van Heerden who said he expected Foxconn to put on a show. That expectation may be why the FLA will conduct "bottom up interviews" as part of the audit.

Yet despite the FLA stating that Foxconn's facilities were "first class," something seemingly must be going on. Chan claims that many Foxconn workers think Apple just really doesn't care because company representatives have actually seen labor violations during their visits, but have elected to do absolutely nothing about them.

"The workers just feedback that they don't feel this [care]," she said, referring to Tim Cook's letter which said Apple cares about every worker in the supply chain. "Most of the time, the workers are aware of the presence of Apple's representatives inside the factories. It is not the problem that Apple doesn't know the real problems at their suppliers. They know, but it is only because they do not care."

Chan added her own personal experience in the interview, claiming that SACOM drafted a petition calling for Apple to end the use of student workers and other hot topics, but has yet to receive a reply after two years. Even more, she's tried to contact the company numerous times and even made personal appearances at the Apple Ranch (Cupertino) in attempt to deliver reports, petition cards and documentaries. However the front desk consistently refuses to take any SACOM material.

"Finally, a security guard tried to disperse us and he promised that he would hand the materials to someone in charge, but I haven't heard from them since then," she said.

On Tuesday, SACOM protesters headed into an Apple Store located in Hong Kong, carrying a petition from Sum of Us. Unsurprisingly, no one from the company would accept it.

To read the full interview, head here.