Interns at Chinese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn are not being forced to work on the production line of iPhone accessories. How do we know? Foxconn, for its part, says so.
Responding to reports in the Chinese publications Beijing News and China Daily and elsewhere that some students in Jiangsu province were being pressured to work long hours at Foxconn making things like iPhone USB cables, the company -- which makes iPhones and iPads for Apple -- told Bloomberg today that an audit by the Fair Labor Association "found no evidence that any interns were pressured to participate."
The original stories in the Chinese publications had suggested that vocational students had been instructed that in order to receive academic credits, they had no choice but to put in hours at their local Foxconn plant, toiling away making USB connectors for about $244 a month, and working overtime if they didn't complete projects on time.
Foxconn does maintain a number of internship programs with vocational schools throughout China, but told Bloomberg that "students are free to leave the internship program at any time."
On its Web site, the Fair Labor Association addressed the internship question, stating that Foxconn's "existing policies have been revised and appropriate clauses have been incorporated. These include the ability to leave the facility prior to the completion of the program." And last month it did suggest that it found that Foxconn had improved conditions for workers in recent months. Foxconn had been the focus of intense media and watchdog scrutiny after reports of poor working conditions there surfaced earlier in the year.
Update, 3:05 p.m. PT: Updated to reflect language relevant to the Foxconn internship program on the Fair Labor Association Web site.