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Start at 7:30 a.m., finish at 6:30 p.m. with an hour break at lunch: this was the schedule 240 second-year students at Shaanxi College of Communication Technology were faced with when interning at Yunda Express, a delivery company in the northwestern Chinese city of Xi"an.
And their pay? 10 yuan, or just 1.50 US dollars, per day.
The students, all specializing in road transportation and management, were required to do this internship to earn credits as part of their course.
But they started suspecting they may be employed as cheap labor instead of as interns: from November 12 to 24, the internship coincided with the heavy delivery period that always follows China"s Singles" Day on November 11, when the Chinese embark on an online shopping frenzy.
Earning less than permanent staff members" daily wage of 14 yuan (about two US dollars), the students however had no choice but to work in order to get their final credits.
Student Xiao Gao, using an assumed name, told China Central Television (CCTV) that their work was to sort out parcels ahead of delivery, which was completely irrelevant to his course of study. When questioned about the significance of this job, he said wryly: “It is of great significance because I know how my parcel is broken.”
Since this grim internship was exposed on social media, netizens have speculated about the college’s motives.
“Obviously, the college has gray income and then pushes its students out to labor,” commented @Shanika_Tao.
“Enterprises collude with universities to buy cheap laborers. That college is not the only one,” said @Aixizaodemaoyu.
Weibo user @Poker-FaceQi recounted his own experience: “I majored in e-commerce. When it came to graduation year, we were assigned to an assembly line. Ten yuan per day and we also had a night shift. We got five yuan more for that shift. Finally, the whole department spoke up against the university’s arrangement but the university threatened not to give us our diplomas. We fought back, saying we would inform the local education department. Eventually, we didn’t need to continue to work.”
According to China’s regulation on student internships, employers are not allowed to make interns work overtime or on holidays, and universities or colleges have to submit an application to the education department. The regulations also say that payment should not be less than 80 percent of what a staff member gets during the probation period, meaning the students at Yunda Express should have been paid at least 11.20 yuan per day.
Following the outcry, Shaanxi College of Communication Technology said the internship was part of its syllabus but that it may be sensitive during peak sales season, and admitting it was wrong not to inform the education department.
If you have had similar experience, how did you deal with it? Tell us your solutions and your opinions on the college’s arrangement.(news from CCTV news)