Amazon accused of poor working conditions at supplier factory

Terry Gou chairman of Taiwan's Foxconn his firm is again under fire for allegedly exploiting workers

Taiwan-based Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (2317.TW), is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer and employs more than a million people.

The Foxconn factory in the Hunan province of Hengyang makes Amazon Echo and Kindle devices.

On top of this, Hengyang workers were paid considerably less than those at other Foxconn factories. The temporary workers are further claimed to receive no overtime pay, being paid a flat rate of $2.26 an hour regardless of how long they have been working and dropping to $2.11 if they miss more than two days of work, and do not receive social insurance or housing contributions - the former being a requirement under Chinese labour law.

The report says, Chinese law stipulates pre-job training to be at least 24 hours, however, dispatch workers only receive eight hours of pre-job safety training.

In a letter to China Labor Watch, Amazon said it takes reported violations of its supplier code of conduct "extremely seriously". Dispatch workers were also treated very differently than regular workers, receiving far less safety training and no overtime wages.

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What just happened? Amazon has been slammed for the "unethical and illegal" working conditions at one of its supplier factories in China.

According China Labor Watch, workers can earn around 4,000 RMB ($624) a month during the peak production season, but only when they log 100 hours in overtime. The tech giant said that it had already identified the violations with regard to overtime as well as how dispatch workers were being employed and had asked Foxconn to remedy these issues immediately. Over nine months between August 2017 to August 2018, investigators found that Hengyang Foxconn, a factory producing Echo Dots and Kindles, violated labor laws. It attracted widespread scrutiny after a spate of worker suicides at a plant in southern China making Apple products several years ago. Still, wages are deducted as penalty for taking leave or "unexcused absences", and workers are subjected to verbal abuse.

"Amazon's profits have come at the expense of workers who labour in appalling working conditions and have no choice but to work excessive overtime hours to sustain a livelihood". Amazon regularly assesses suppliers, using independent auditors as appropriate, to monitor continued compliance and improvement.

As for the allegations in China, Amazon said it had found "issues of concern" in the Hengyang factory during an audit in March, and "immediately requested a corrective action plan".

Meanwhile, Foxconn "works hard to comply with all relevant laws and regulations", according to the same Reuters report.

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