Foxconn to investigate Amazon factory working conditions after damning report
Amazon has been embroiled in another working standards furore after US-based advocacy group China Labour Watch shined a light on Foxconn’s harsh factory conditions over the weekend.
After a nine-month long investigation from August 2017 to April 2018, China Labour Watch released a damning 94-page report where it made reference to the factory’s illegal overreliance on temporary workers, inadequate training, low wages and extreme working hours. The Foxconn factory in the Hunan province of Hengyang makes Amazon Echo and Kindle devices.
“We are carrying out a full investigation of the areas raised by the report, and if found to be true, immediate action will be taken to bring the operations into compliance with our code of conduct,” Foxconn told Reuters.
According to the report, more than 40% of the workers were temporary dispatch workers, which is higher than the legal limit in China of 10%. China Labour Watch goes on to describe how the workers at the factory were treated differently than the rest of the workforce, receiving no overtime wages and “very little” safety training.
Temporary workers were paid just 14.5 Yuan (£1.69) an hour, including overtime. While that’s slightly more than the permanent staff, they don’t get benefits like sick pay. Some staff members even worked 14 days consecutively.
Permanent workers were overall paid less than the average wage in Hengyang, with staff members working longer hours to make up for the abysmal pay. Workers earn just 2,000 Yuan to 3,000 Yuan a month (£300), while the average in Hengyang is 4,600 Yuan (£536). Most of the staff, including temporary workers, put in more than 100 hours overtime per month during the peak season. The legal limit is 36 hours.
On top of this, staff dormitories are reportedly not equipped with fire extinguishers or adequate fire safety precautions.
“Amazon takes reported violations of our supplier code of conduct extremely seriously. Amazon regularly assess independent auditors as appropriate, to monitor continued compliance and improvement,” Amazon responded. “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”.
It’s not the first time both Foxconn and Amazon have been at the centre of a debate over inadequate working conditions. Back in 2010, Foxconn’s Longhua factory, where it produces iPhones, was blamed for a series of worker suicides.
Amazon has most recently been placed on the Dirty Dozen list, a list of the most dangerous places to work in the US,after numerous accidents occurred at its various warehouses.