Amazon Under Fire Over Working Conditions In Echo Factories

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Employees of a Foxconn-owned factory in Hengyang, China where the Amazon Echo smart speakers, Kindle e-readers, and Amazon tablets are being manufactured receive low wages for long hours of work and underwent insufficient safety training, according to a new report from China Labor Watch. The New York-based agency urged Amazon to address a number of labor violations it observed at the factory with the goal of making the facility a more bearable place for its workers.

Among other things, the report states that dispatch workers accounted for more than 40-percent of the workforce instead of 10-percent, as required by local labor regulations in China. Furthermore, the report revealed a remarkable difference in the working conditions between dispatch and regular workers. For instance, regular workers took five days of training while dispatch employees underwent only eight hours of training instead of 24 hours of safety training prior to starting a job, as legally mandated in the Far Eastern country. The labor watchdog also reported that some regular employees were not required to pay for the physical examination while the dispatch workers did not have the same privilege and were asked to pay $7.86 for the exam. Additionally, the factory management failed to provide several dispatch workers with a copy of their labor contract and did not grant sick leave payment for that same group. Meanwhile, regular workers saw a 20-percent deduction from their day’s wages for taking a sick leave. Dispatch workers did not receive their pay during the off-season when the factory required them to go on a leave. During peak season, however, employees were required to work for more than 100 hours of overtime each month instead of 36 hours at a maximum, as stipulated by local labor laws, as per the same report. The factory also required workers to come to their workstations ten minutes prior to the scheduled start of their shift without paying them for the extra time. According to the report, the factory only paid workers a fixed hourly rate of $2.26 and didn’t honor overtime work.

It was also reported earlier this year that hundreds of Amazon employees in Ohio are impoverished, with the basis for that claim being a study conducted by Policy Matters Ohio which revealed that as many as 700 of the company’s employees within the state were receiving food stamps. Amazon said it requested a “corrective action plan” from its Chinese partner in response to the new report.