The Financial Times has reported that e-commerce giant JD.com used hundreds of students from a local vocational school in its warehouses to manage Singles’ Day orders, paying them as little as Rmb 14 ($2) per hour.
Students said that they were made to work 12- to 16-hour shifts, including overnight stints, being told they would not graduate if they did not complete the work.
“On Singles’ Day we were provided with food. As soon as we finished eating, we got back to work,” said one student interviewed. Many said that on Singles Day shifts extended to 18 hours, breaking laws for student labour.
In one of the warehouses, in Kunshan, the minimum hourly wage is Rmb 18.5, to which vocational school interns are entitled to at least 80%, according to federal law.
One technical college who sent its students to work in the Kunshan warehouse said that “all the students doing overtime are doing it voluntarily.” Another said that the experience helped the students embrace “the spirit of hard work.”