Amazon under fire over claims of mistreatment of factory workers in China

12 June, 2018, 20:24 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Credit Reuters

Taiwan-based Foxconn, announced Monday that it had started an investigation into working conditions at its Hengyang factory, which mainly produces Kindles, tablets and Echo speakers for online retail giant Amazon.

A China Labour Watch detailed illegal numbers of temporary workers, as well as staff being underpaid and overworked.

A China Labor Watch investigator - who spent a month at the factory, posing as a dispatch worker - reported workers slumped, exhausted, over their work benches trying to catch a few minutes' sleep during breaks.

In a press statement, Amazon said it audited the Hengyang factory most recently in March 2018 and asked them to address "issues of concern" related to dispatch workers and overtime.

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.

"All workers are subject to long hours and low wages", the report said, noting workers at Foxconn's plant in the central China city of Hengyang made an average of $2.26 per hour.

Amazon said it has "immediately requested a corrective action plan" after uncovering violations at the Hengyang Foxconn plant.

Foxconn is taking the report seriously and is carrying out a full investigation of the areas raised by that report, .

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The report alleged working conditions between despatch workers and regular workers was "markedly different" with regular workers receiving five days of training compared to despatch workers receiving just eight hours of training.

Amazon said it has called on a supplier to clean up its act at a Chinese factory where a watchdog group says it observed harsh conditions and mistreatment of workers.

"Amazon has the ability to not only ensure its supplier factories respects the rights of workers but also that there is equal pay for equal work", said China Labor Watch on its site.

In its statement, Foxconn said salary reviews "are conducted regularly and we ensure that we offer all employees remuneration that exceeds statutory requirements and that is competitive with our industry peers".

China's largest electronics manufacturer and employer has been criticised in the past for poor working conditions at factories where Apple devices were made, leading to the company installing safety netting to prevent worker suicides.

The report noted staff were also subject to verbal abuse.

Foxconn said it didn't comment on matters involving current customers or products, but promptly claimed that it "works hard" to honor the law and that it will "rectify" violations if they're found.

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