Amazon is being called out for the poor working conditions in the China-based factory that manufactures its products. 

New York-based China Labor Watch published over the weekend its report on the factory that produces Amazon’s Echo speakers and Kindle e-readers. The report, which summarizes what the watchdog group found throughout its investigation from August 2017 to April 2018, seemingly paints CEO Jeff Bezos and Amazon in a bad light for allegedly taking advantage of low-paid laborers. 

“[Our] investigation revealed a number of rights violations at the Hengyang Foxconn factory, which manufactures Amazon’s Kindle, Echo Dots and tablets,” the report stated. “The investigation revealed that dispatch workers made up more than 40 percent of the workforce, a clear violation of the legally mandated 10 percent.”

The watchdog also pointed out that the working conditions between regular employees and dispatch laborers were markedly different even though they were working the same positions. Another inconsistency has to do with the training employed by the company. Dispatch workers only trained for eight hours, while regular workers underwent five days of training. 

China Labor Watch has learned that dispatch workers were made to pay physical examination fees. On the other hand, some regular workers disclosed that they did not have to pay for such fees. Moreover, the factory did not pay dispatch workers for sick leave, nor provide them with any insurance. Dispatch workers also did not receive wages during the factory’s off season. 

Several issues with the factory’s physical structure were also singled out. For instance, the dormitory area did not have adequate fire safety paraphernalia. It didn’t have a fire extinguisher, and protective equipment were also lacking. Fire escape routes were not labeled. The company also did not hold fire drills throughout the duration of the investigation.

Foxconn’s management was also notably strict that workers experienced verbal abuse. Workers admitted that they never heard of a labor union, and they didn’t know if they had a worker representative. Finally, all workers were subjected to long working hours but only received measly wages. Dispatch workers were paid 14.5 yuan or US$2.26 per hour. Many were forced to do overtime hours just to maintain a decent standard of living. 

Amazon has already raised the concerns to Foxconn, who said on Monday that it has started its own internal investigation on the matter. The manufacturing company has also assured its partner that it will rectify any illegality it discovers. 

“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. We are committed to ensuring that these issues are resolved,” Amazon said in an email sent to Bloomberg.

Foxconn has also sent a statement to Reuters regarding the concerns, saying, “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.”

Amazon The working conditions in the China-based factory that manufactures Amazon products have raised some serious concern. Photo: Reuters/Abhishek N. Chinnappa