Rights group hits Amazon, Foxconn over China labour conditions

  • Rights group hits Amazon, Foxconn over China labour conditions

Rights group hits Amazon, Foxconn over China labour conditions

Contract manufacturer Foxconn said on Sunday it is investigating a plant in China that makes devices for Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), after a USA watchdog group criticized what it described as harsh working conditions at the factory.

Foxconn is a Taiwan-based electronics contract business, which is also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry.

Moreover, the report by China Labor Watch detailed how staff dormitories lack basic fire safety precautions, including the lack of emergency exits or fire extinguishers.

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

According to the report, workers tasked with putting together Amazon Echo devices and Kindle tablets were required to work more than 100 hours of monthly overtime during peak season - almost three times the 36 hours per month limit stated in Chinese labour law.

"In addition, sick leave is unpaid for dispatch workers, and they are regularly sent on leave during the factory's off season", the authors write. The 94-page China Labor Watch report found that temp workers were not paid overtime, and unlike full-time workers did not receive sufficient safety training.

"All workers are subject to long hours and low wages", the report said, adding that workers at Foxconn's plant in Hengyang in Hunan Province made an average of US$2.26 per hour.

Foxconn says via an exchange filing it has begun its own internal investigation.

The report also found a disparity between how regular employees are treated and so-called dispatch - or temporary - workers.

Such staff were paid overtime at the normal rate, not the 1.5x rate required both by Chinese law and the Amazon code of conduct for suppliers.

Employees were subject to a gruelling 100 hours of monthly overtime, according to the report, which should have been no more than 36 hours under Chinese labour law.

And in the UK, Amazon workers were found to use bottles in lieu of the bathroom to avoid taking too long away from the job. It attracted widespread scrutiny after a spate of worker suicides at a plant in southern China making Apple products several years ago.

But now a USA watchdog group, China Labor Watch, has alleged fresh worker violations and harsh working conditions at the Foxconn factory in Hunan province. "Amazon's profits have come at the expense of workers who labor in appalling working conditions and have no choice but to work excessive overtime hours to sustain a livelihood", China Labor Watch claimed. "We are committed to ensuring that these issues are resolved", the statement said.

In a statement released earlier Foxconn said that it works diligently to comply with all the relevant regulations and laws where it has operations and it conducts audits on a regular basis.