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The people who built your Amazon Kindle are subjected to terrible working conditions

Long work hours and an illegal workforce are among dozens of troubling allegations.

Jun 11, 2018, 8:46 am*


Phillip Tracy 

Phillip Tracy

Workers tasked to build Echos and Kindles at a factory in Hengyang, China, are subjected to grueling working conditions, low wages, and practices that violate the country’s labor laws. The strict demands of factory workers at Foxconn, the electronics manufacturer best known for building iPhones, were detailed in a 94-page report by the China Labor Watch and the Guardian following a nine-month investigation.

Long work hours, poor training, and an illegal workforce makeup are among dozens of troubling allegations presented in the report. In violation of Chinese laws, workers put in 100 hours a month (36 hours is the legal limit) of overtime during peak periods, with some employees operating for 14 days straight. Despite their sacrifices, workers are paid just $2.26 with bonuses and overtime hours. If someone takes more than two days off or is late more than twice a month, they receive a standard pay of $2.11. During the offseason, full-time workers earn $312.12 a month, less than half the average wage in Hengyang, according to the report.

About 40 percent of the factory’s workers are dispatch workers, or disposable temporary employees contracted from outside agencies during peak workloads. They don’t receive any benefits and can be fired at any time. This does not comply with Chinese labor law, which only allows for temp workers to make up 10 percent of a company’s workforce. These contractors are also lacking in training. While Chinese law says pre-job training must be at least 24 hours, dispatch workers supposedly receive about eight hours of safety training.

Outside the factory, the standard of living for laborers at Foxconn is equally poor. The tiny dormitories they live in don’t have emergency exits or a fire extinguisher and the escape routes aren’t clearly labeled.

Amazon told Gizmodo it completed its own audit of the Foxconn manufacturing plant in March and found “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,” Amazon said.

The substandard conditions at Foxconn plants have been well documented over the years, particularly at locations where workers build Apple’s iPhone. Amid workers threatening suicide, more than 2,000 people rioted at a Foxconn plant in 2012, forcing it to shut down. More recently, Apple confirmed that the Foxconn factory that built its flagship iPhone X employed underage workers.

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*First Published: Jun 11, 2018, 8:45 am