Foxconn just can't seem to get it right.
It's been a while since we heard anything about unprecedented numbers of worker suicides there, but the latest report claims that the Taiwanese manufacturer exploited Chinese college students to help build PlayStation 4 consoles.
According to China.com, Xi'an Technological University students worked as interns at a Foxconn factory in the coastal Chinese city of Yantai between August and this October.
But the students are claiming that they were forced to work on assembly lines and do other work that had nothing to do with their areas of study, and that they would lose college credits and be denied their diplomas if they didn't complete the mandatory work program.
The tasks the students engaged in reportedly included pulling protective film off of and putting stickers on the consoles, putting manuals and cords in boxes, and carrying boxes around.
The students' work days allegedly lasted 11 hours or longer, sometimes with additional overtime and night shifts.
Foxconn issued a statement today to the website Quartz indicating that the company has a policy against assigning overtime and night shifts to student interns, and that that policy was indeed violated.
"Immediate actions have been taken to bring that campus into full compliance with our code and policies," Foxconn told the website. That reportedly includes reinforcing that policy and "reminding all interns of their rights to terminate their participation in the program at any time."
The devil you know
Foxconn owns plants where electronics sold by tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, Sony and others are made.
It sounds like the university may be partly to blame as well, if students were denied credits if they quit partway through the work term.
That's standard for such work-study programs - if you don't finish, you don't get the credit.
But ideally those programs need to include some studying, and not just work.