Foxconn Is Under Scrutiny for Worker Conditions. It’s Not the First Time.

Posted June 11, 2018 3:06 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2018 3:18 p.m. EDT

Foxconn’s employment practices are drawing scrutiny again.

A new report by China Labor Watch, a New York-based labor advocacy group, and the British newspaper The Observer claimed that a Foxconn factory in Hengyang, China, had violated employment laws. The factory produces Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and Kindle devices.

More from The Observer’s report:

“Agency staff — known as dispatch workers in China — do not get sick pay or holiday pay and can be laid off without wages during lulls in production. China changed its labor laws in 2014 to limit their use to 10 percent of any work force in an attempt to stop companies exploiting them to cut costs. The China Labor Watch investigation — published on Sunday in association with the Observer — found that more than 40 percent of the staff in the Foxconn factory were agency workers. Those working overtime were being paid at the normal hourly rate instead of the time-and-a-half required by Chinese law and by Amazon’s own supplier code of conduct.”

Amazon confirmed to the newspaper that its own audit of the factory this year had revealed how Foxconn had been employing too many agency workers and that they were not rewarded suitable overtime pay. “We immediately requested a corrective action plan from Foxconn,” Amazon said in a statement.

Foxconn said that it was “carrying out a full investigation of the areas raised by that report.” The company added that it “works hard to comply with all relevant laws and regulations” in the markets where it operates and “if infractions are identified, we work to immediately rectify them.”

The Taiwanese company is the biggest contract electronics manufacturer in the world, making devices for Apple and Amazon among others. But Foxconn has also frequently made headlines over allegations relating to its workers.

Here’s a rundown of some of the issues that have reportedly plagued Foxconn’s factories:

Suicides. The company was hit by a wave of worker suicides in 2010. Other incidents have occurred since.

Wage and hours exploitation. In 2012, Foxconn was accused of underpaying wages and having its employees work excessive hours. In response, the company pledged to curtail the length of shifts and raise wages.

Serious accidents. One Foxconn worker was left brain-damaged after an electric shock in 2011. An explosion in one factory killed four people and injured another 18 in the same year.

Underage and illegal workers. Foxconn admitted to having hired teenagers as young as 14 at one of its factories in 2012.Late last year, Apple confirmed that, at a plant where its iPhone X is made, student workers were discovered to be working overtime — in violation of local laws.

Riots. More than 1,000 workers were involved in a violent disturbance at one of the company’s factories in 2012.

Poor living standards. The New York Times reported in 2012 that as many as 20 workers could be housed in three-room staff apartments.

Foxconn, for its part, has tried to address issues as they have come up, making its factories safer and increasing pay to improve morale. But the new report from China Labor Watch and The Observer suggests there is still some work to do.