Friday, August 9, 2019

Schoolchildren in China work overnight to produce Amazon Alexa devices

Hundreds of schoolchildren have been drafted in to make Amazon’s Alexa devices in China as part of a controversial and often illegal attempt to meet production targets, documents seen by the Guardian reveal. Interviews with workers and leaked documents from Amazon’s supplierFoxconn show that many of the children have been required to work nights and overtime to produce the smart-speaker devices, in breach of Chinese labour laws.

According to the documents, the teenagers – drafted in from schools and technical colleges in and around the central southern city of Hengyang – are classified as “interns”, and their teachers are paid by the factory to accompany them. Teachers are asked to encourage uncooperative pupils to accept overtime work on top of regular shifts. Some of the pupils making Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo and Echo Dot devices along with Kindles have been required to work for more than two months to supplement staffing levels at the factory during peak production periods, researchers found. 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, which also makes iPhones for Apple, admitted that students had been employed illegally and said it was taking immediate action to fix the situation.
The company said in a statement: “We have doubled the oversight and monitoring of the internship program with each relevant partner school to ensure that, under no circumstances, will interns [be] allowed to work overtime or nights... read more: