A US watchdog group has criticized Amazon and contract manufacturer Foxconn over what it described as harsh working conditions at a China factory that makes Amazon’s Echo speakers and Kindle e-readers, Reuters reports.
In a 94-page report, New York-based China Labor Watch cited excessive hours, low wages, inadequate training and an overreliance on “dispatch” or temporary workers in violation of Chinese law, the report said.
The violations were said to be taking place at a Foxconn factory in Hengyang in Hunan province that is involved in production of Amazon devices.
China Labor Watch said its nine-month investigation found that about 40 percent of workers at the plant were dispatch workers, far exceeding the 10 percent limit under Chinese law.
Dispatch workers were paid at the same rate for regular and overtime hours, rather than time and a half as required, China Labor Watch Program Officer Elaine Lu said.
“They were underpaid,” Reuters quoted Lu as saying. “That’s illegal.”
Dispatch workers earned 14.5 yuan (US$2.26) per hour, the report said. Workers also put in more than 100 overtime hours per month during peak season, far more than the 36 hours allowed by law, and some worked for 14 consecutive days.
Amazon said it audited the factory in March and found overtime and use of dispatch workers were “issues of concern.”
“We immediately requested a corrective action plan from Foxconn,” Amazon said in a statement.
The online retailing giant said it is monitoring Foxconn’s response and “compliance with our Supplier Code of Conduct. We are committed to ensuring that these issues are resolved.”
Foxconn, meanwhile, said that it “works hard to comply with all relevant laws and regulations” where it operates and conducts regular audits.
“If infractions are identified, we work to immediately rectify them,” it was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.
Foxconn, which also makes Apple’s iPhones, came under fire in 2010 for a spate of suicides at plants in China.
Following those incidents, the Taiwan-based electronics giant pledged to improve working conditions at its China factories.
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