A labor rights group, China Labor Watch, revealed some disturbing information from an investigation recently conducted. The group learned that Chinese schoolchildren, by the hundreds, are being recruited to work both long and often illegal hours of factory work involving the production of Amazon’s wildly popular Alexa devices.
During the investigation, which The Guardian first reported about, China Labor Watch gather copious amounts of evidence that showed an estimated 1,000 children, currently between the age of 16 and 18, were being employed under the title of “interns.” The location of the Foxconn factory is reportedly in Hengyang, located in central China.
While the laws of China, according to China Labor Watch, do permit the hiring and working of students 16 years old and older, these same employees are not allowed, by the same laws, to work nights or any overtime.
The investigation also indicated that schools would receive compensation for sending their students to the factories, and the teachers were instructed to encourage the students to work overtime. The encouragement came even though many of the students had no interest in or wanting to work the overtime.
China Labor Watch reviewed the notes from an HR department meeting recently held at the Foxconn factory, which indicated that they instructed the leaders over the nightshift lines to check in with the student “interns” and their teachers regularly.
They were then instructed to report any abnormalities so that the teachers could, in turn, convince students to work the night shifts and overtime. If any of the students chose to refuse to work the additional hours “offered,” the teachers were then instructed to, on the student’s behalf, file a letter of resignation, as indicated in the meeting notes.
One of the “interns,” a 17-year-old student studying computing by the name of Xiao Fang, began working on the production line for the Amazon Echo just in the last month. His assigned job entailed placing the protective film on an estimated 3,000 Echo Dots every day.
Fang indicated that her teacher initially told her that the job would require working eight hour days, five days a week. However, that schedule quickly changed to 10 hour days and six days a week.
When Fang commented on the long hours and long week, she was told by her teacher that if she chose not to work the schedule, the results could very well impact both her graduation and her prospects of receiving a scholarship as well. Fang went on to say she felt her only choice was to endure the long hours and workweek.
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Should there be a law in America about products sold in this country that are produced under these types of conditions?