Apple investigating allegations of forced labor at a China supplier

Apple is investigating allegations that one of its suppliers illegally used high school students to assemble its watches at a factory in China, reports CNN.

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) said in a report last week that it found students being forced to work on Apple Watch production lines at a plant run by Quanta Computer in the city of Chongqing. SACOM is a non-government organization founded in 2005 by a group of students and scholars from tertiary institutions in Hong Kong. It monitors and publicizes the misconducts of multinational corporations through first-hand investigations in supplier factories.

Apple China.jpg

SACOM alleges that students aged 16 to 19 were forced by their schools to work at the factory through compulsory internships, placed in jobs unrelated to their field of study, often made to work excessive overtime, and in some cases put on overnight shifts. All four of those practices violate Chinese regulations and Apple's own standards, the group says.

Apple said in a statement that it audited Quanta's Chongqing factory three times between March and June, and found "no student interns working on Apple products at that time.”

"We are urgently investigating the report that student interns added in September are working overtime and night shifts," the tech giant told CNN. "We have zero tolerance for failure to comply with our standards and we ensure swift action and appropriate remediation if we discover code violations."

In 2010, SACOM launched investigative reports in response to suicides in Foxconn and n-hexane poisoning in Wintek, both of which are Apple suppliers. The group urged Apple to take responsibility for the poisoning and suicides, for its ethical codes were violated in the production of iPhones and iPads.