Taiwan’s Foxconn has admitted employing children as young as 14 on assembly lines at a plant in China, a fresh blow to the tech giant that has been attacked over its treatment of staff after several suicides.
The company, which makes products for Apple and Sony, admitted it hired the underage workers as part of an internship programme, reflecting a practice rights groups said is widespread among enterprises in China.
“This is not only a violation of China’s labour law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy,” the company said in a statement late Tuesday, referring to Chinese rules that set the legal minimum age for workers at 16.
“Immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions,” it added.
Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract manufacturer, said it had carried out a probe at the plant in eastern Shandong province, which showed the interns in question, aged from 14 to 16, had worked in there for about three weeks.
A spokesman told AFP the interns had been mainly working on assembly lines at the plant.