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Chinese student ‘interns’ spend 10-hour days sorting packages after Single’s Day shopping spree

Students majoring in highway transportation management at a vocational college in north-western China were made to intern at a speed post company as part of their training, where they sorted packages for 10 hours a day.

A total of 240 second-year students at the Shaanxi Transportation Vocational College in Shaanxi province were assigned on two-week internships at a postal sorting centre a day after the country’s biggest online shopping event, the Single’s Day sale on November 11, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

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Students said they had to complete the internships to gain the credits required to graduate.

The interns were told to sort packages for 10 hours a day, and were only paid a daily wage of 10 yuan (HK$11.25).

“All we did was to throw packages around and sort them out,” a student was quoted as saying. “We started every day at 7.30 in the morning, had a lunch break at noon, and resumed work at 1.20pm until we finished at 6.30pm.”

Students complained the job had nothing to do with their major, and suspected the internship was arranged because the speed post company was short staffed following the massive amount of online orders on Single’s Day.

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“The company would have had to spend a lot of money if they hired casual labourers, so I guess we become an alternative of cheap labour for them,” the student said.

Students said casual labourers were paid 14 yuan per hour at the company, but they were only paid 10 yuan per day.

According to a regulation on vocational college students’ internship management student interns should be paid at least 80 per cent of the standard wage of a worker under probation.

A manager at the speed post company declined to comment.

An official with the school insisted an internship at a speed post company was part of the “teaching plan”.