According to the news report by Bloomberg, Amazon.com Inc. has been criticized for the conditions for workers in the factory that makes Amazon’s products in China.
The watchdog group China Labor Watch, based out of New York, released a study over the weekend relating the conditions under which workers in the factory function. The report was made after a nine-month long investigation of the conditions at the factory and offers a glimpse into why the company is able to sell its voice activated speakers at such low costs of $40 apiece.
This factory is owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., also known as Foxconn, is located in the city of Hengyang and manufactures Amazon’s two products – the Echo speaker and the Kindle e-reader.
Here is a list of issues the report outlined:
- The factory is violation of China’s labor laws, forcing its workers to spend more than 100 hours per month on overtime. According to the labor laws of the country, no worker should be made to work more than 36 hours overtime in a month.
- The factory is also in violation of China’s “dispatch workers” law. Dispatch workers can be equated to temporary staff in the US. However, Chinese law dictates a limit to how many dispatch workers a factory can have. This factory is violating that law too by employing a large number of dispatch workers – beyond the limits of the law.
- Employees at this factory do not receive enough safety training.
- Workers are expected to be at their work stations at least 10 minutes before their shifts start – and they are not given any compensation for that time.
- There are no fire extinguishers in the staff dormitories.
According to the report, not only are the working conditions harsh, but workers are also paid very low wages, and so must rely on overtime to earn enough money to survive.
Amazon responded to the report in an emailed statement that clarified that the company had already conducted an inspection of this factory in March. 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.
The company stated that they had requested Foxconn for a corrective action plan which detailed the steps that the factory was going to take to fix these issues. Amazon also added that regular checks were being conducted to validate that implementation of the corrective action plan was taking place and that the factory was becoming compliant with their Supplier Code of Conduct.
Foxconn also responded, stating that salary reviews were conducted regularly and all full time as well as dispatch workers received pre-job training as well as additional training for their assigned departments.
This is not the first time that Amazon has been criticized for working conditions at its various warehouses – even in the US. The company was earlier sued with the plaintiffs alleging that the tech giant had cheated workers out of their extra pay by making them clock-off before being checked for theft prevention before they left their building. However, Amazon won that case, with the Supreme Court itself ruling that a company did not need to pay its workers extra for security screenings.
As for China, this is not the first time that factories have been highlighted for poor working conditions. One of the biggest electronics manufacturers and an Apple supplier was also criticized for its poor working conditions and lack of safety protocols for its workers.