China: Amazon accused of child labour after schoolchildren found working in supply chain; Incl. co. comments

In August 2019, leaked documents to China Labor Watch revealed that more than 1,000 schoolchildren aged 16-18 were employed by Foxconn, Amazon's supplier, to meet targets during peak production periods.

According to the documents, children were drafted in from schools and colleges, and classified as 'interns', to fulfil a shortage in labour force, as the factory struggled to recruit permanent staff. The documents also highlighted the cheaper cost of hiring children.

The children were reported to be working night-shifts and overtime, while teenagers who spoke to researchers said the factory work had no relevance to their courses, and that they were pressed into working overtime. 

Amazon has since stated it is urgently investigating the allegations and addressing the situation with Foxconn. Comments from Amazon and Foxconn can be found in the articles below.

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13 August 2019

China: Amazon and Foxconn respond to allegations of child labour in supplier factory

Author: VOA News

"Amazon Pledges to Probe Claims of Worker Abuse at China Factory", 12 August 2019 

Amazon says it is investigating claims of worker abuse at a factory in China after a labor rights group found teenage employees at the factory were required to work night shifts and overtime hours for low pay...

The executive director and founder of China Labor Watch, Li Qiang, told VOA, "Amazon and Foxconn should allow independent agencies to monitor the working environment of the related factories. Only in this way can violations of labor laws be prevented and effectively solved."

The report also said student intern workers at Foxconn's Hengyang factory in eastern China receive lower wages and fewer benefits than non-student workers. It said about 20 percent of workers at the factory are student interns, double the legal limit...

"We are urgently investigating these allegations and addressing this with Foxconn at the most senior level," Amazon said in a statement, adding, "We do not tolerate violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct."...

Foxconn acknowledged the issue in a statement Friday, saying it is increasing the monitoring of its internship program with schools "to ensure that, under no circumstances, will interns [be] allowed to work overtime or nights."

"There have been instances in the past where lax oversight on the part of the local management team has allowed this to happen and, while the impacted interns were paid the additional wages associated with these shifts, this is not acceptable and we have taken immediate steps to ensure it will not be repeated," the company said.

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9 August 2019

China: Schoolchildren found working nights & overtime to meet production targets in Amazon supply chain; Incl. co. comment

Author: Gethin Chamberlain, The Guardian

"Schoolchildren in China work overnight to produce Amazon Alexa devices", 8 August 2019

...schoolchildren have been drafted in to make Amazon’s Alexa devices in China as part of [an]...attempt to meet production targets...

...Interviews with workers and leaked documents from Amazon’s supplier Foxconn show that many of the children have been required to work nights and breach of Chinese labour laws...

... the teenagers...are classified as “interns”...Some of the pupils...have been required to work for more than two months...during peak production periods...More than 1,000 pupils are employed, aged from 16 to 18. Chinese factories are allowed to employ students aged 16 and older, but these schoolchildren are not allowed to work nights or overtime.

Foxconn...said..: “We have doubled the oversight and monitoring of the internship ensure that, under no circumstances, will interns [be] allowed to work overtime or nights..."

A spokesperson for Amazon...said..."We are urgently investigating these allegations and addressing this with Foxconn...Additional teams of specialists arrived on-site yesterday to investigate, and we’ve initiated weekly audits of this issue.”

Teenagers...said the factory work has no relevance to their courses and they have been pressed into working overtime...

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