Foxconn is a successful business in the field of global wireless communication and was listed as a leading manufacturer of professional cell phone design in Hong Kong in 2005. Major customers include Amazon, Apple, Xiaomi, Nokia, Motorola, Huawei, Meizu, InFocus and other well-known brands. The global electronics manufacturer, however, has been under fire a number of times for its poor labor treatments. China Labor Watch (CLW) alone has conducted more than a dozen factory investigations in Foxconn’s multiple factory locations and found issues such as the exploitative practices of hiring student interns and dispatched workers, long working hours, poor working conditions, and even child labor. This report details the results from CLW’s independent factory investigation in 2022 on one of Foxconn’s factory locations in Hengyang, Zhengzhou.
Hengyang Futaihong Precision Industry Co., Ltd. was established on January 16, 2013. The legal representative of Hengyang is Liao Yijun; its registered capital is 50 million RMB; and its unified social credit code is 914304000601437324. The shareholder and promoter of the company, Shenzhen Futaihong Precision Industry Co. Ltd,. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fuzhi Limited, a subsidiary of the Foxconn Technology Group.
Address: No. 35 E Factory Building, Baisha Industrial Avenue, Baishazhou Industrial Park, Yanfeng District, Hengyang City
Main customers and products produced: Amazon, including Kindle devices; Echo Dots Amazon speakers; wireless energy voice assistants, and tablet computers; and other products.
Approximate composition of labor force (Source: workers, Qichacha, and message from labor dispatch company)
Total number of workers: about 7,000
Number of regular workers: about 4,000
Number of dispatched workers: about 2,400
Number of trainee workers: at least 600
Percentage of dispatched workers: about 34.2%
Percentage of internship workers: at least 8.5%
Number of interviewees: 23
Respondents’ department: Manufacturing
Ratio of male to female interviewees: 15:8
Ratio of interviewed regular and dispatched workers and interns: 2:16:5
Interview formats: Face-to-face;online; and telephone
NOTE: Respondents did not know the identity of the investigator
Overview of Factory Violations
In 2018 and 2019, China Labor Watch sent several investigators to Hengyang Foxconn, a factory that mainly produces Amazon products, to conduct several investigations. As a result of these investigations, the Hengyang Foxconn factory was found to have a large number of cases of illegal employment in their production of Amazon’s Kindle ebooks, Echo Dots speakers, wireless capable voice assistants, and tablets. These include the factory’s illegal use of dispatch workers and interns, forcing interns to work overtime and night shifts in irrelevant jobs, and promoting excessive overtime hours for dispatch and regular workers.
In the fall of 2022, China Labor Watch again sent investigators into the Hengyang Foxconn factory. The factory still primarily produces Amazon products. Through fieldwork, visits, and online and offline interviews with workers, this second investigation found that Foxconn’s Hengyang factory has continued to overwork large numbers of employees and interns, force overtime and night shifts for interns, and enforce excessive overtime work for both dispatched and regular workers. These long-standing illegal employment problems at Foxconn have not been addressed since the revelations of the 2017 and 2018 reports, in which China Labor Watch resolutely reprimanded the company and demanded that Foxconn, as well as its core customer, Amazon, respond by making amends and correcting the existing violations.
Amazon Items: Echo Dot Tags
Core facts of violations uncovered by CLW in Foxconn investigation：
(1) Interns: The use of interns exceeding the intern-to-workers proportions stipulated by law; there are cases of forced overtime and night work for interns despite serious violations of the law; and interns lack labor protections such as social security.
Foxconn has long been carrying out “school-enterprise cooperation” with vocational schools in various locations, including schools such as Hengyang Technician College (衡阳市职业中专), Hunan Polytechnic of Environment and Biology (湖南环境生物职业技术学院) , Hunan Railway Technology Vocational Technical College (湖南铁路科技职业技术学院), and many other vocational schools in Maoming and Guangdong. The factory recruits interns during the winter and summer vacations or during peak production seasons (August), and the length of an internship contract generally extends from six months to a year.
Article 9 of the Regulations on Internship Management for Vocational School Students (《职业学校学生实习管理规定》) states that “the number of students in the internship shall not exceed 10% of the total number of employees in a given employment unit.” According to SACOM research, the actual number of vocational school interns employed by Foxconn was estimated to be much higher than 10%. The actual ratio is, instead, closer to one third, and there has been no verifiable indicator that the number has decreased, in violation of Article 9.
In Hengyang Foxconn, interns worked the same schedule as regular and dispatched employees, and were also expected to work night shifts and overtime. Interns were required to work 2-4 hours overtime almost every day during the peak season, with an average of only one day off per week or one day off every two weeks. Some students interviewed said that overtime alone could exceed 30 hours per week. In the worst cases, they might be expected to work continuously for one month without any rest days at all. If students do not want to work overtime or late shifts, they face retaliation from factory managers. For example, managers could find reasons to accuse students of not meeting product quality standards. Managers might also make interns work assemble fine parts and other tedious labor that would prevent them from meeting production targets.
If a student wants to leave the factory midway through the terms of their internship, the school’s resident teachers would often dissuade them. In order to retain interns, most teachers would intervene by threatening non-issuance of graduation certificates. This kind of intimidation tactic is common. The practices above violates Article 16, Item 3 of the “Regulations on the Administration of Student Internships in Vocational Schools (《职业学校学生实习管理规定》)”, which stipulates that, among other things, “students shall not work overtime or night shifts.”
The positions assigned to interns are also often completely irrelevant to their majors at school, and are randomly arranged according to the factory’s production needs. This practice violates the provisions of Article 7 of the “Regulations on the Administration of Student Internships in Vocational Schools(《职业学校学生实习管理规定》)”, which stipulates that “The internship position should meet the requirements of the professional training objectives and match or be similar to the majors students are studying.” Additionally, interns do not sign a labor contract with the factory. Their wages are calculated by the hour. In the factory, there is also no provision for night shift or overtime compensations, no social insurance or housing fund, and no commercial insurance was offered for the interns. This is another violation of the relevant provisions on the rights and interests of laborers in both the Labor Law (《劳动法》) and the Labor Contract Law (《劳动合同法》).
2）Dispatched workers: Factories use an excessive number of dispatched workers who lack social security and other labor protections
According to interviews, Foxconn still estimates that more than 30% of its employees are dispatched workers. This violates Article 4 of the “Interim Provisions on Labor Dispatch,” which states that “Employers should strictly control the number of dispatched workers, and the number of dispatched workers used must not exceed 10% of the employers’ total workforce.” In addition, The factory has, for a long time, recruited a large number of dispatched workers through recruitment agencies during its peak seasons during the summer, without providing these workers with legally mandated insurance benefits, overtime pay, or various types of vacation rights. These conditions also violate the provisions for workers’ rights and interests found in both the Labor Law (《劳动法》) and the Labor Contract Law (《劳动合同法》).
3）Other common labor violations in the factory: Lack of induction training for employees, no backup on labor contracts for employees, and widespread overtime.
During the onboarding process, the factory does not provide adequate training for dispatched workers and interns. Rather than training them on job safety and skills, the process emphasizes the company’s disciplinary requirements. In terms of labor contracts, neither the dispatched workers nor the regular workers get to retain a copy of their signed labor contracts. Workers lack full knowledge of their own rights and privileges. In terms of overtime hours, regular workers, dispatched workers and interns are all required to put in serious overtime hours, and the monthly total of these overtime hours exceeds the statutory upper limit of 36 hours. Moreover, for dispatched workers and interns, overtime work does not bring in overtime pay, which seriously violates the basic rights and interests of workers as provided for in both the Labor Law and the Labor Contract Law.
4）Ethnic minorities: There is discrimination against ethnic minorities in Foxconn factory recruitment.
Foxconn’s external recruitment posters do not reflect any discrimination on ethnicity and religion, but during the recruitment process, Foxconn’s staff verbally stated that “the four major ethnic groups are not accepted.” The “four major ethnic groups” excluded, specifically, were Uighur, Tibetan, Yi, and Hui. From relevant reports and previous investigations, we know that Foxconn has set a precedent for restricting the recruitment of these four major ethnic groups “. This restriction violates the provisions of Article 12 of the Labor Law (《劳动法》), which prohibits employment discrimination: “Workers shall not be discriminated against in employment due to differences in ethnicity, race, gender, or religious belief.”