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Amazon accused of poor working conditions at supplier factory

The factory is owned by Foxconn, which also makes Apple’s iPhones.

hengyang-foxconn-factory

Foxconn's facility in Hengyang, which makes Amazon products, has been accused of poor working conditions.

China Labor Watch

A 94-page report detailing poor working conditions at a Chinese Amazon facility has emerged barely two months after Amazon was accused of overly strict rules on breaks at its UK fulfilment centre.

Workers putting together Echo speakers and Kindles among other Amazon products are subjected to work over 100 hours of overtime every month in exchange for low pay at the firm's facility in Hengyang, China, according to New York-based labour watchdog China Labor Watch on Sunday. In one instance, workers worked 14 consecutive days during peak season.

The facility is owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, which also makes Apple's iPhones.

The report detailed findings from a nine-month investigation that ended in April, which found workers putting in more overtime hours than permitted by Chinese labour law (which limits overtime to 36 hours every month) in order to make ends meet. Still, wages are deducted as penalty for taking leave or "unexcused absences," and workers are subjected to verbal abuse.

China Labor Watch also reported other legal violations at the facility. In particular, over 40 percent of the staff at the facility are dispatch workers (temporary staff) who receive just eight hours of training before they begin their jobs. This is not compliant with Chinese laws, which only allow companies to hire up to 10 percent of its workforce and require at least 24 hours of safety training.

It's not the first time a Foxconn-owned factory has been accused of poor working conditions such as long hours, low wages and an unsafe environment. The manufacturer came under fire following riots and suicides at its plants across China. It made efforts to improve working conditions, but Foxconn was found to have engaged in child labour years later, hiring high school students as interns to help manufacture the iPhone X for 11 hours every day last November.

"Amazon takes reported violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct extremely seriously," an Amazon spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement. "In the case of the Foxconn Hengyang factory, Amazon completed its most recent audit in March 2018 and identified two issues of concern. We immediately requested a corrective action plan from Foxconn Hengyang detailing their plan to remediate the issues identified, and we are conducting regular assessments to monitor for implementation and compliance with our Supplier Code of Conduct."  

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