Amazon’s Alexa and Echo devices being built illegally by Chinese schoolchildren working gruelling shifts, charity says

CHINESE schoolchildren are producing Amazon devices in gruelling shifts in order to meet strict production goals, a charity has claimed.

China Labour Watch says children aged 16 to 18 are working overtime at Amazon’s supplier Foxconn to make the popular Alexa and Echo devices.

AFP – Getty

Workers at the Foxconn factory in China. Teenage ‘interns’ have reportedly been made to work gruelling shifts producing Amazon’s products, a charity said[/caption]


Amazon’s popular Alexa-enabled Echo device. Teen workers at a factory in China are reportedly regularly made to work overtime, in breach of employment laws[/caption]

Chinese factories are permitted to employ students aged 16 and older as “interns” – but they are not allowed to work nights or overtime.

Interns are also not supposed to make up more than 10 per cent of the workforce.

But the report said the schoolchildren accounted for 21.3 per cent of workers the Foxconn factory – more than double the legal limit.

And it claimed that the students were put under immense pressure to put in long shifts – as their school received a payout worth 35p for each hour a student worked.

The lights in the workshop are very bright, so it gets really hot

Xiao Fang, 17Teen worker at Amazon supplier

One of the students, Xiao Fang, 17, told China Labour Watch she worked 10 hours per day six days a week making the Echo Dot device.

She said: “The lights in the workshop are very bright, so it gets really hot.”

When she complained about working so much overtime, her manager told her schoolteacher who threatened that she wouldn’t be allowed to graduate.

She added: “I had no choice, I could only endure this.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t very used to working at the factory, and now, after working for a month, I have reluctantly adapted to the work.

“But working 10 hours a day, every day, is very tiring.”


Foxconn has said it will ensure it does not break labour laws – while Amazon said it has launched an investigation[/caption]

The charity says normal workers are putting in well over the legal maximum of 36 hours of overtime a month – with some working an extra 140 hours at peak times.

A spokesman for the Taiwanese electronics giant – which employs more than 1million people – said it would work to ensure it follows the law.

The spokesman added: “We regularly carry out internal reviews… and a recent review of our operations in Hengyang determined that we were not in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulation.”

Foxconn, which also makes Apple Inc iPhones, came under fire in 2010 for a spate of suicides at plants in China.

An Amazon spokesman said: “We are urgently investigating these allegations and addressing this with Foxconn at the most senior level.

“We do not tolerate violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct.”

He added that the company – headed by billionaire Jeff Bezos – sent investigators to the site last week after it became aware of the claims.

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