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Amazon is investigating whether Foxconn has been using children illegally to make Alexa...

By nanoguy · 16 replies
Aug 10, 2019
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  1. Foxconn has a long history of controversies over the way it exploits people in its factories, and the general working conditions they provide to those that assemble consumer electronics for big tech. A report from The Guardian claims Foxconn has hired children and has coerced them to work night shifts and overtime to produce Amazon Echo and Kindle devices, something that is prohibited under Chinese labor laws.

    The information was found through interviews with workers and leaked documents that paint a disturbing picture of a Foxconn facility located in the southern Chinese city of Hengyang. The company reportedly hired more than 1,500 "interns" for the job of assembling Amazon's devices, who were teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18.

    While Chinese labor laws do allow companies to hire teenagers that are over 16 years old to work in manufacturing, they explicitly prohibit overtime and night shifts. Furthermore, China Labor Watch launched a thorough investigation into the matter 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 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 interns and teachers more often, and report back any abnormal situation so that teachers can persuade students to work night shifts and overtime." If that didn't work, teachers were told to file a resignation on their behalf.

    Several students told investigators that their teachers had initially told them they would be working eight hours a day for five days a week, but that quickly turned into ten hours and then twelve, as orders piled up and quotas had to be met with even stricter deadlines. Six workers share a single room and they each assemble 60,000 devices a month, only to earn about $250.

    Foxconn has acknowledged the issue and is currently looking into the matter. Company representatives told The Guardian that "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."

    An Amazon spokesperson said the company has already sent additional teams of specialists to audit the situation, and will be "urgently investigating these allegations and addressing this with Foxconn at the most senior level."

    This isn't the first time the manufacturing giant has been found to practice poor oversight of its operations in China. A similar situation happened in 2017 when students worked overtime to assemble iPhone X devices for Apple. Sony, too, had to deal with Foxconn's negligence when it was preparing to launch one of its consoles.

    It's also worth noting that Amazon has been criticized in the past over working conditions at its suppliers, especially concerning safety and wage levels. And since Foxconn is cutting costs as a result of weaker demand for newer and shinier devices, we're likely to see the story repeat itself in the future.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,996   +1,534

    They are probably looking into it and wonder why the **** haven't we done this earlier?
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,777   +2,589

    Meanwhile in the west every Chinese kid whose family owns a restaurant is either at school, doing homework at the restaurant or actually working there. I've had a 10-year old ring up my purchase on more than one occasion and I'm pretty sure that's illegal.
  4. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,865   +695

    When I was 15 I worked the 11 pm to 7 Am shift washing dishes. I survived. Labor laws for children are needed but lets not have a cow about this
    Dimitrios and havok585 like this.
  5. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,865   +695

    Keep telling yourself that and I am sure some day you will believe it as Goebbels said.
  6. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,932   +2,251

    Children under the age of 16 are allowed to work at family owned businesses. Minors 16 and 17 are allowed to work at noon family owned businesses with their parents consent.

    And our products are essentially made with slave labor, they have suicide nets around these buildings. But we draw the line at child slave labor, okay....
  7. Bluescreendeath

    Bluescreendeath TS Maniac Posts: 152   +234

    Wiki says in the US, young children can work if there is parental consent and other restrictions. And there is leniency given to certain situations, including family employment.

    "The main law regulating child labor in the United States is the Fair Labor Standards Act. For non-agricultural jobs, children under 14 may not be employed, children between 14 and 16 may be employed in allowed occupations during limited hours, and children between 16 and 17 may be employed for unlimited hours in non-hazardous occupations.[1] A number of exceptions to these rules exist, such as for employment by parents, newspaper delivery, and child actors.[1] The regulations for agricultural employment are generally less strict."

    "However, current US child labor laws allow child farm workers to work longer hours, at younger ages, and under more hazardous conditions than other working youths. While children in other sectors must be 12 to be employed and cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day, in agriculture, children can work at age 12 for unlimited hours before and after school"

  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,072   +4,080

    This is the same kind horse poop you run into from time to time in the "fashion industry". It usually involves, an aging actress realizing that foundation garments aren't going to be there when she has to do a bikini scene, and menopause is starting to become a looming reality.

    So, she decides to,"design", a clothing line, which of course, and by necessity, will be eponymous.

    Later on, it is discovered that these clothes are being made mostly by children in sweatshops. (Pick the southeast Asian locale of of your choice).

    The actress is of course wildly indignant about having her "good name dragged through the mud", for something, which of course, she knows absolutely nothing about.

    Then comes the hurricane of tears and wind of proclamations that, "I'm going to do something about this", covering all channels of morning talk TV.. (She is, after all, a very skilled actress, even if her butt is starting to widen and droop severely).

    A coupe news cycles later, all is forgotten, and you can't help bur wonder what happened with that poor lady, and the scandal which was forced upon her by the ruthlessness of the fashion industry. Next stop? Possibly a Lifetime movie about all that she had to endure at the hands of her ruthless manager, and all the the other pond scum which led her pious mission to bring high fashion to the the great unwashed masses, to founder on the rocks of despair..

    All of this of course, has been well rehearsed during her "long walks in the rain", (to the bank).

    Epilogue: Since Jeff Bezos is a hell of a lot more draconian, nefarious, and greedy, than even an aging actress, I'm sure his concerns are more rooted in saving face, than they are about who exactly is making his junk spyware speakers.

    In fact, I can see him in my mind's eye right now, relaxing while curled up with a good book, most likely something by Machiavelli or Sun Tzu.. :eek:.:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019 at 1:55 AM
    Nero7 likes this.
  9. havok585

    havok585 TS Addict Posts: 205   +61

    16 YEARS OLD ? you are no longer a ****ing kid at that age, what the..
    But still, to have teachers persuade these teens to work overtime or worse, coerce them, it's unacceptable !
    QuantumPhysics likes this.
  10. Dimitrios

    Dimitrios TS Guru Posts: 497   +367

    I used to work 7PM-8AM sometimes 5PM to 9AM at a wine warehouse. This was like 3-5 years ago. Talk about stress lol. The nice thing about night shift is no traffic and pay is usually better with night shifts VS normal shift.
  11. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,363   +1,001

    If I was a North Korean child and somehow by the grace of God, North Korea allowed Apple to build iPhones there, and I only got paid 25 cents an hour... I would Thank GOD that North Korea allowed me a chance to make 25 cents per hour.

    It's so funny listening to this entitlement from western liberal hipsters who have never been to Asia, never lived in Asia and have no idea about economics in either their country OR any other.

    But suffice for me to say this: That little $1 or $5 an hour job might make the difference between me having to prostitute myself for food and starving to death.

    I'm willing to bet that not a single one of you has ever actually been to Heng Yang. I lived in China for 2 years. Those pictures posted are exactly like what I saw in the female student dormitories where you have 4 girls living in a space Americans would only have 2.

    ask women in South East asia why they feel it necessary to leave their families and go to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to work.

    It ain't to see the sights.

    So you go on with your snobbish nose up in the air while you're drowning in student loan debt that will NEVER be forgiven or erased.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019 at 11:01 AM
  12. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,363   +1,001

    This is what happens when you allow your factory work to be outsourced to another country.

    American kids currently are USELESS. No skills. They are going to public schools for what?

    Useless liberal arts degrees?

    to become educated morons who can't get a job?

    I dare someone to compare the average one of these kid's achievement scores to the average American kid.

    I double dog dare em.
  13. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 746   +639

    The US has a steady 3.7% unemployment rate. They're getting jobs. And last I looked, the US's per capita GDP is about 4X China's so they're getting paid as well.
  14. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,363   +1,001

    Look how many people Trump had to deport to allow you to be able to quote me those FAKE economic growth numbers.

    Do me a favor:

    Tell me how the HOUSING MARKET is doing and disaggregate the Asian money coming in that's propping it up.

    If a single job isn't enough to pay rent, food costs and personal needs then that's called "underemployment".

    Now tell me how many of your % have to have 2 or more jobs to make ends meet.
  15. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 746   +639

    Have a look at the numbers for the past 5 years, which include the previous president. The graph shows no radical departures mostly because the president has just about zero to do with most economic measures, including unemployment.

  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,072   +4,080

    My last post was apparently. too complex I'll simplify this one.

    IMO, Jeff Bezos could abundantly care less who's making his smart speakers.

    This is just a big publicity blitz, to try and make Amazon appear "concerned", about the construct of the labor force making his product.

    I'ts most likely all for show, and again IMO, it will blow over., without any changes or resolution..
  17. koblongata

    koblongata TS Addict Posts: 212   +66

    Kids are prohibited to work and make money even if they are willing to.
    They must ask for money from their parents.

    I really feel it is a very strange system and law.

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