In China, more than 1,500 schoolchildren are working illegal jobs to manufacture Amazon Echo devices and other Alexa-enabled gadgets for Amazon’s supplier, Foxconn.
The children are considered interns, according to The Guardian, while their teachers are paid to accompany them to work jobs that violate Chinese labor laws. Documents from an investigation by the New York-based labor watchdog agency China Labor Watch reveal harrowing cases of physical abuse and coercion against students — a disturbing glimpse into the business practices behind Amazon’s products.
Foxconn told The Guardian that it knew it was violating labor law in order to meet quotas for Amazon and that it would increase oversight to make sure the schoolchildren didn’t work any more overnight or overtime shifts.
Foxconn blamed “lax oversight on the part of the local management team” in its statement, claiming that children working manufacturing jobs got “practical work experience.”
Students told China Labor Watch investigators that their jobs had nothing to do with their coursework. One 17-year-old computing student, for instance, had to put protective films on thousands of Echo dots every day. Her teacher originally promised the job would last eight hours a day, five days a week, but the student now works for ten-hour shifts with only one day off.
“I tried telling the manager of my line that I didn’t want to work overtime,” the student said. “But the manager notified my teacher and the teacher said if I didn’t work overtime, I could not intern at Foxconn and that would affect my graduation and scholarship applications at the school.”