Foxconn Technology Group fired two executives at a Chinese plant that assembles devices for Amazon.com Inc., responding to a labor group’s allegations it slashed wages and flouted laws to help deal with rising U.S. tariffs.

It’s the second time Amazon and the Taiwanese company, which makes many of the world’s most popular gadgets, have come under scrutiny for the treatment of workers at the plant in the central city of Hengyang. China Labor Watch last year criticized the facility, which produces Echo speakers and Kindle e-readers for Amazon, for relying on temporary workers—including high school interns—and overtime beyond limits set by law. Foxconn said in a statement on Friday it had dismissed the plant’s chief and head of human resources, and punished managers responsible for overseeing use of interns.

“Amazon and Foxconn responded that they would make improvements to the factory’s working conditions,” China Labor Watch said. “However, CLW’s 2019 investigation found that Foxconn’s working conditions did not improve, and instead deteriorated.”

Wages, which the labor group deemed last year too low to support a “decent standard of living,” were slashed by another 16% in 2019, the New York-based group said on Thursday, citing documents it obtained.

That salary hasn’t been enough to draw sufficient full-time workers to the factory, which requires more than 7,000 people to operate 58 assembly lines during the peak production period that begins in July. To fill the gap, Foxconn relied heavily on interns as young as 16 from vocational schools, some of whom were forced to work overtime, according to China Labor Watch.

One student cited in the advocacy group’s account is a 17-year-old computing major at a vocational high school. She started working at the plant in July and says her teacher told her the internship would require 40 hour workweeks spent placing a protective film over hockey puck-shaped Echo Dot smart speakers as they came down the assembly line.

A few weeks ago, she was asked to start putting in overtime to total 60 hours a week. When she complained to the manager of her production line, her teacher warned her that turning down the overtime could jeopardize her graduation, China Labor Watch said.

Foxconn said it recently conducted a review of its Hengyang facility and determined that the proportion of contract workers and student interns had on occasion exceeded legal thresholds, and that some interns had been allowed to work overtime or nights. “We were not in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulation,” the company said in an emailed statement Thursday.



“Effective immediately, the percentage of interns assigned to that facility will be brought into full compliance with the relevant labor law,” Foxconn said, adding it will also take immediate steps to ensure interns will no longer work overtime or nights.

The China Labor Watch report, which painted a grim picture of the factory’s working environment, said:

One student cited in the advocacy group’s account is a 17-year-old computing major at a vocational high school. She started working at the plant in July and says her teacher told her the internship would require 40 hour workweeks spent placing a protective film over hockey puck-shaped Echo Dot smart speakers as they came down the assembly line.

A few weeks ago, she was asked to start putting in overtime to total 60 hours a week. When she complained to the manager of her production line, her teacher warned her that turning down the overtime could jeopardize her graduation, China Labor Watch said.

Foxconn said it recently conducted a review of its Hengyang facility and determined that the proportion of contract workers and student interns had on occasion exceeded legal thresholds, and that some interns had been allowed to work overtime or nights. “We were not in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulation,” the company said in an emailed statement Thursday.

“Effective immediately, the percentage of interns assigned to that facility will be brought into full compliance with the relevant labor law,” Foxconn said, adding it will also take immediate steps to ensure interns will no longer work overtime or nights.

The China Labor Watch report, which painted a grim picture of the factory’s working environment, said: