Foxconn Investigates Amazon Echo Factory

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Chinese factory that makes Amazon Echo speakers and Kindle readers probed for workforce violations

A Foxconn factory in China is being investigated by its owner, after a US watchdog alleged serious workplace violations at the plant.

The plant in question is the Hengyang Foxconn plant in Hunan province, which makes the Echo Dot smart speakers and Kindle e-readers.

Taiwan-based Foxconn (formerly Hon Hai Precision Industry) has been at the centre of reports of workforce violations for a number of years, although the firm in recent times has worked hard to improve worker conditions and pay.

foxconn Apple iPhone factory China accident

Factory violations

But some Foxconn factories have been in recent times been rocked by riots by workers, explosions, and in some cases death and suicides of staff members.

But now a US watchdog group, China Labor Watch, has alleged fresh worker violations and harsh working conditions at the Foxconn factory in Hunan province.

It’s report controversially alleges that Amazon “profits from secretly oppressing its supplier’s workers.”

The report followed a nine-month investigation found that “dispatch workers (temporary workers) made up more than 40 percent of the workforce, a clear violation of the legally mandated 10 percent.

“Whilst regular workers receive five days of training, dispatch workers only receive eight hours of training, which is well below the legal stipulation of 24 hours of pre-job safety training,” the China Labor Watch states. “Dispatch workers are also required to pay the physical examination fees, whereas some regular workers reported not having to pay any fees for the physical examination.”

“In addition, sick leave is unpaid for dispatch workers, and they are regularly sent on leave during the factory’s off season,” the report states. “During this time, they do not receive any wages.”

The report also stated that all workers are subject to long hours and low wages, with some working 100 overtime hours during peak season, and some workers working consecutively for 14 days.

“Other major issues at the factory include inadequate fire safety in the dormitory area, lack of sufficient protective equipment, absence of a functioning labor union at the factory, and strict management who subject workers to verbal abuse,” said the report.

Foxconn investigation

Foxconn has responded quickly and said it investigating the matter.

“We are carrying out a full investigation of the areas raised by that report, and if found to be true, immediate actions will be taken to bring the operations into compliance with our Code of Conduct,” Foxconn Technology Group said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

It is worth remembering that Foxconn is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer and employs more than a million people, spread across multiple factories in the Far East and beyond.

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