Underpaid and exhausted: the human cost of your Kindle
Five o’clock in the morning and the young woman’s eyelids are drooping. All night she has been removing spots of dust from Amazon smartspeakers with a toothbrush. Time seems to crawl. Now she is overwhelmed with exhaustion. She works on, more and more slowly, until she can do no more. She looks around the workshop. Let’s call the young woman Alexa. For an answer, we must fast forward a couple of months to last Monday. The morning is warm but overcast, with a light haze that could be fog or pollution. Dozens of workers are arriving, casually dressed in jeans and T-shirts. These are the people who are making the smart speakers and tablets that Amazon hopes to make a fixture in millions more homes around the world this year: the Echo and Echo Dot – which both spring to life when the user addresses them as Alexa – and the Kindles. The Foxconn factory in Hengyang relies on the tried and tested formula of low wages and long hours. But Bezos doesn’t see the need.
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