Forced Labor Whistleblower Was Sent To Prison By Amazon Supply Chain Foxconn

According to the criminal judgement of the People’s Court of Zhengxiang District, Hengyang City, Hunan Province, Tang Mingfang, who was born on February 18, 1979 and used to be an employee of Hengyang Futaihong Precision Industry Co., Ltd., was detained in prison because of reporting Foxconn’s forced student labor internship to China Labor Watch(CLW). After examining the reports published by CLW, Amazon conducted an investigation and confirmed that CLW’s report of illegal use of students existed. Amazon required Foxconn to improve workers’ working and living conditions, to  increase workers’ wages by RMB 1,407,039, and to dismiss the supervisor of the factory as well as the human resources manager. However, Foxconn took its revenge on Tang Mingfang subsequently, by accusing him of infringing on business secrets law on September 11 in 2019. Tang MingFang was detained under criminal law by Chinese Public Safety. According to Foxconn’s testimony, the Hengyang Court sentenced Tang Mingfang to two years in prison on July 1, 2020. 

China Labor Watch believes that this is a ridiculous verdict. The “loss” in this case is the reasonable wages that Foxconn should have paid the workers according to the law, while the report by China Labor Watch only allows the workers to receive their legal wages. To use this as a basis for sentencing is to protect the factory’s illegal practice of oppressing workers and to suppress labor rights.

Foxconn’s revenge violated the third section “Grievance Mechanism and Whistleblower Protections” of the Amazon Supply Chain Standards, page 5, “Ethical Behavior”.

        “3. Grievance Mechanism and Whistleblower Protections. Amazon expects suppliers to protect worker whistleblower confidentiality and prohibit retaliation against workers who report workplace grievances. Suppliers are required to create a mechanism for workers to submit their grievances in a confidential and anonymous manner and maintain an effective process to  investigate and address worker concerns. Workers employed by subcontractors must have a mechanism in place to bring their concerns to management teams above the subcontractor. “

     please see the link: https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/amazon_supply_chain_standards_english.pdf

In 2019 China Labor Watch received an anonymous letter reporting that Hengyang Foxconn was illegally using a large number of student workers who were paid less than the legal wage rate, unbeknownst to China Labor Watch at the time.,  iIt was Tang Mingfang who provided the information. Employees of China Labor Watch used other email addresses (other than China Labor Watch’s institutional email addresses) to contact the whistleblower, who provided information about Foxconn’s illegal use of student workers, forced labor, and non-payment of legal wage amounts for labor. China Labor Watch used the information with the whistleblower’s permission and authorization.

CLW dispatched investigators to Foxconn and found out that manya lot of students were illegally hired by Foxconn. These students were forced to work overtime. If the students refused to workworker longer, the factory would contact their teachers to engagelet the teachers to persuade them. If the students insisted on to refusinge to workworking overtime, they would are not be able to resign on their own volitionby themselves. They had to must ask their teachers to assist them with conduct the resignation. The internships the students did at Foxconn factory wasare not helping the students with  on their studies, since their majors wereare not relevant to the producing lines they hadve worked on. The student interns told CLW that they were threatened that they would notnot be able to get obtain their graduation certificates if they failed todon’t do the internships arranged by the school. Obviously, the students arewere forced laborers at Foxconn. 

Foxconn’s ban on student workers resigning outright also violates Article 32 of the Chinese Labor Law.

Article 32 Laborers can notify, at any time, their employer of their decision to revoke labor contracts in any one of the following cases:

(1) During their periods of probation;

(2) If they are forced to work by the employer through means of violence, threat or deprival of personal freedom in violation of law; 

(3) Failure on the part of the employer to pay labor remunerations or to provide labor conditions as agreed upon in labor contracts.

CLW found the sentence of Tang Mingfang on the internet  in 2020 and contacted the CEO of amazon immediately to see if he could help to release Tang. Unfortunately CLW has not received any feedback yet so far.

 

China Labor Watch cannot confirm whether it was Tang Mingfang who made the report, and if so, Tang’s anonymous report was simply an attempt to help the badly treated students and dispatched workers. His conviction was a result of a tripartite collaboration between Foxconn, Amazon, and the Chinese government to crack down on human rights defenders who want to improve workers’ rights, using criminal detention as a warning to those who want to help Chinese workers. China Labor Watch has also reported to US Customs the fact that Foxconn, an Amazon foundry, is forcing student workers to work, which is defined in the Forced Labor Convention 1930 as “all labor or service which is not performed voluntarily by any person under the threat of any penalty。”.

CLW appeals that Amazon stop working with Foxconn who violates workers human rights.

Li Qiang, the founder of CLW, said that only moral condemnation of the international supply chain factories in China but without real punishment is not able to protect Chinese workers’ rights.

 Students forced laborers are quite common in China, and this situation is reported and exposed by a lot of media and labor scholars, but not a single factory who used forced labor got punished., and this condones connives use of forced laborers in Chinese factories.

People’s Court of Zhengxiang district, Hengyang City, Hunan Province Criminal Judgment 

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