(Yicai Global) June 11 -- Amazon, the world’s most valuable retailer, has admitted it was aware of problems at one of its China factories before a 94-page watchdog report unveiled the brutal workload borne by workers at the plant, who work 100 overtime hours a month in peak season.
The Seattle-based firm had found two issues of concern when conducting its own audit in March, it told British mass media firm Guardian Media Group, which exposed Amazon’s law-breaking in tandem with American organization China Labor Watch.
“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. “We are committed to ensuring these issues are resolved.”
The Guardian and CLW investigated a plant in Hengyang, Hunan province, from August 2017 to April 2018 and found it breached a number of labor laws while producing Echo speakers and Kindles for Amazon. The factory under paid workers, chalked up a vast roster of temp workers to avoid paying annual leave or sick pay, and had staff work excessive hours.
The company behind the plant was Taiwan’s Foxconn, or Hon Hai Precision Industry, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer and the iPhone’s biggest producer. The firm has a worrying reputation when it comes to labor conditions. It was hit hard when a string of workers committed suicide in the early 2010s, prompting the firm to put up nets around factories to prevent staff from jumping off them. Another worked killed himself in Zhengzhou, where the iPhone X is made, in January this year.
Some staff are working 100 overtime hours a month, the watchdog’s report said, noting that the legal limit was 36 and that temp staff were not paid time-and-a-half for their extra hours -- a legal requirement. The plant’s workforce is 40-percent made up of temps, who do not get annual leave or sick pay, despite the legal allowance being 10 percent.
Furthermore, workers undergo just eight hours of training, just one third of the 24-hour requirement set by Chinese law, and have to turn up 10 minutes early for work, unpaid, every day. Their dormitories also lack emergency exits and fire extinguishers.
Editor: James Boynton