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Foxconn compensates for labour shortages with forced ‘internships’

Just when you thought Foxconn’s reputation couldn’t get any shadier. The manufacturing giant is reportedly recruiting students from nearby universities for two month internships in a bid to address labour shortages ahead of the launch of the upcoming iPhone 5.

According to Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, thousands of students were forced into the company’s factories after classes were suspended at the beginning of the semester.

Students from a university in Huai’an in Jiangsu Province say they pitched up for school one day only to be driven to a Foxconn factory to begin working on the production line. In return they were paid 1 550 yuan (US$243.97), although that’s much less than it cost them for food and accommodation.

The students aren’t just drawn from departments relevant to the technology either. According to a student from Jiangsu Institute of Finance and Economy, people from the departments of law, English and management were all drafted in by Foxconn.

One or two schools have reportedly cancelled their internship programmes after online complaints by students caught the attention of the media. A number advocacy rights groups have offered to take the matter to court on behalf of the students. Many students are afraid to do so however, because they feel their schools could prevent them graduating.