Amazon Factory Employees Forced to Work 100 Hours of Overtime in Unsafe Working Conditions: Report

Amazon Echo speakers and Kindle e-readers are produced by Chinese laborers who work long hours for low pay and without proper safety training, found a new report by China Labor Watch, a U.S.-based humanitarian group.

China Labor Watch launched a nine-month investigation into the Hengyang Foxconn factory, which produces some of Amazon's most sought-after products. Among a number of labor violations, the group discovered that laborers were required to work at least 100 hours of overtime per month. Chinese law caps overtime at 36 hours per month.

The report also found that workers did not receive adequate safety training and that factory dorm rooms did not adhere to fire safety guidelines. Additionally, the factory relied on dispatch, or temporary, workers instead of full-time employees. Dispatch workers are typically untrained and paid less than permanent employees. Even for full-timers, salaries at the factory are so low that significant overtime hours are required in order to make a living wage.

"Dispatch workers earn 14.5 RMB/hour ($2.26 USD) and are paid the same rate for normal hours and overtime hours," the report stated. "The hourly rate includes an attendance bonus, and workers who take more than two days off or are late more than twice a month would receive wages calculated by a 13.5 RMB/hour ($2.11 USD) standard for the month."

In a statement to Bloomberg, Amazon wrote that it had completed an audit of the factory in March and asked Foxconn to rectify those issues.

"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," wrote Amazon. "We are committed to ensuring that these issues are resolved."

Foxconn has come under scrutiny for its treatment of employees many times. In 2010, Shanghaiist reported that security guards at an Apple iPhone factory run by Foxconn beat the workers regularly. In 2010, 20 Chinese universities released statements describing Foxconn factories as "labor camps." In 2012, nearly 150 employees threatened to commit mass suicide to protest the unsustainable working conditions at Foxconn.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, with a networth of more than $140 billion. In 2017, the median salary of an Amazon employee was $28,446.

The least expensive version of the Amazon Echo costs around $40.

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Protesters from Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour demonstrate outside the Foxconn offices in Hong Kong. MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images
Amazon Factory Employees Forced to Work 100 Hours of Overtime in Unsafe Working Conditions: Report | U.S.