" Hundreds of schoolchildren have been drafted in to make Amazon’s Alexa devices in China as part of a controversial and often illegal attempt to meet production targets, documents seen by the Guardian reveal.
Interviews with workers and leaked documents from Amazon’s supplier Foxconn show that many of the children have been required to work nights and overtime to produce the smart-speaker devices, in breach of Chinese labour laws.
According to the documents, the teenagers – drafted in from schools and technical colleges in and around the central southern city of Hengyang – are classified as “interns”, and their teachers are paid by the factory to accompany them. Teachers are asked to encourage uncooperative pupils to accept overtime work on top of regular shifts.
They reveal how the factory has turned to schoolchildren to fill the gaps after struggling to recruit permanent staff. One document describes how a factory needs roughly 7,000 workers to handle production from April to October, but says that it is only able to recruit an average of about 30 workers a week and needs to hire agency workers and interns to fill the gap. Interns can account for up to 15% of the workforce.
“To fulfil the shortage of the labour force and lower the cost of labour recruitment, we would like to cooperate with local schools to recruit student interns,” read one document before listing the advantages of recruiting schoolchildren.
“Low labour cost, can hire a large amount of labour at once, easier to reassign additional workers to other positions, strong ability to learn new things.”"
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