In short: Amazon is investigating reports that Foxconn has violated labor laws by requiring teens to work more than legally allowed. As the US-China trade war intensifies, the manufacturing giant can cut corners to meet production targets, even if it means breaking the labor law.
Foxconn has a long history of controversy about how it utilizes people in its factories and the general working conditions they provide to those who assemble big tech consumer electronics. A report from The Guardian claims Foxconn has hired children and forced them to work night shifts and overtime to produce Amazon Echo and Kindle devices, which is prohibited by Chinese labor law.
The information was found through interviews with workers and leaked documents that paint a disturbing image of a Foxconn plant located in the southern Chinese city of Hengyang. The company reportedly hired more than 1
While Chinese labor laws allow companies to hire teenagers over 16 to work in production, they explicitly prohibit overtime and night shifts. Furthermore, China Labor Watch began a thorough investigation of the case and found that schools were actually paid to send students to the factories, and teachers were instructed to encourage or otherwise pressure them to work longer hours by using threats that they would have trouble graduating.  The review cites notes from an HR meeting: "Night shift line leaders should check in with student trainees and teachers more often, reporting back any abnormal situation so teachers can persuade students to work night shifts and overtime." If that didn't work, the teachers were told to say goodbye on their behalf.
Several students told investigators that their teachers had first told them they would work eight hours a day for five days a week, but it quickly turned into ten hours and then twelve, when orders were stacked and quotas had to be met with even stricter deadlines. Six workers share a single room, and they collect 60,000 units a month, only to earn around $ 250.
Foxconn has acknowledged the problem and is currently looking into the matter. Business representatives told The Guardian that "there have been instances in the past where escaping supervision from the local management team has allowed this to happen, and although the trainees concerned were paid the additional salaries associated with these shifts, this is unacceptable and we have taken immediate steps. to ensure it is not repeated. "
An Amazon spokesperson said the company has already sent several teams of specialists to investigate the situation and will" promptly investigate these allegations and raise this with Foxconn at the highest level. "
This is not the first time the manufacturing giant has found itself overseeing its operations in China. A similar situation happened in 2017 when students worked overtime to put together iPhone X devices for Apple. Sony also had to deal with Foxconn's negligence as she prepared to launch one of her consoles.
It is also worth noting that Amazon has previously been criticized for working with its suppliers, especially in terms of security and pay levels. And since Foxconn is cutting costs as a result of weaker demand for newer and lighter devices, we will likely see history repeat itself in the future.