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Foxconn puts halt to illegal overtime at iPhone X plant

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Apple supplier Foxconn in a statement on Thursday said it has stopped high school interns from working overtime at an iPhone plant in China, a practice that violates the country's labor laws.

According to BBC news, Foxconn is no longer allowing secondary school interns from working more than 40 hours a week.

"Apple is dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve," Apple said in a prepared statement. "We know our work is never done and we'll continue to do all we can to make a positive impact and protect workers in our supply chain."

Earlier this week, a Financial Times report cited accounts of six students who claimed to have regularly worked 11-hour days at a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou tasked with building iPhone X units. The interns were reportedly part of a larger group of 3,000 students hired from the Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School as part of a three-month paid internship.

At the time, Apple said the interns were working voluntarily and were "compensated and provided benefits." The tech giant did, however, say the students should not have been allowed to put in overtime hours. Foxconn issued a similar statement, saying the group was compensated appropriately, but "did work overtime in violation of our policy."

In their public declarations, both Apple and Foxconn seem to suggest the interns broke company policy by voluntarily working beyond the 40-hour limit. However, at least one student who spoke with the Financial Times claims it was the plant's decision.

"We are being forced by our school to work here. The work has nothing to do with our studies," said one unnamed student who is attending the Zhengzhou Urban Rail Transit School to become a train attendant. The intern went on to claim that she assembles up to 1,200 iPhone X cameras per day.

In its response to the BBC today, Foxconn said it took "immediate action to ensure that no interns are carrying out any overtime work," adding that "interns represent a very small percentage" of its workforce in China.

As the world's most valuable tech company, and an outspoken proponent of workplace responsibility, Apple is under constant scrutiny from human rights groups. Despite attempts to improve workplace conditions, Apple and its suppliers have in the past come under fire for failing to follow Chinese labor guidelines. Indiscretions have included reports of underage workers, excessive work hours and dire living conditions.