Packages are sorted in a Gu'an warehouse and distribution facility. Photo: iStock/Getty Images

Some 60 students at a vocational school in Guangzhou are required to sort packages during Alibaba’s Singles Day online shopping festival to complete their internship, the Yangcheng Evening News reported.

Xiao Yu, a sophomore in the Guangdong AIB Polytechnic College, told the newspaper on November 4 that the school had closed from November one to 15.

Xiao said all her industry and commerce classmates had to do an internship at a logistics company under Alibaba in Xintang town, Zhengcheng district.

The students were offered 10 yuan (US$1.47) per hour, working eight to 10 hours a day, which is lower than 18.3 yuan per hour, the standard minimum wage for part-time work in Guangzhou.

Some students were pissed off because of the low-skilled and low-paid work, and refused to take part. But they then got the word from their teachers, saying the sorting job is considered to be a compulsory part of the internship that is written into the teaching program. Credit from the internship will be a requirement for graduation.

“The teachers are extracting work out of us because they couldn’t find enough cheap labor to work on the huge number of packages ordered during the Singles Day online shopping festival,” said a student in the class.

Logistics companies have started to turn to students for cheap labor from last year’s Singles Day buying crunch, according to Xiao.

Ms Lin, the teacher in the college in charge of the internship program denied that the school received any money from the logistics company. “The 10 yuan per hour is a subsidy rather than a wage, and it is directly given by the logistics company to the students,” she added.