back to article HP clamps down on student labor in Chinese factories

HP has issued new employment guidelines for its supply chain partners in China, in response to what it describes as "the significant increase in the use of student and dispatch workers" in manufacturing facilities across the country. "We have worked closely with leading Chinese stakeholders to develop our new student and …


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  1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    Chinese progressive labour laws

    "employers must have mechanisms in place that allow workers to file labour grievances without fear of reprisals."

    Watch out, if this catches on we may have to implement this in the NHS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chinese progressive labour laws

      But you can file labour grievances without fear of reprisals in the NHS.

      That's not the bloody problem. The problem is that NOBODY DOES ANYTHING ABOUT THOSE GRIEVANCES! You can have somebody criminally incompetent working in the NHS, and everybody working with the person can know that, agree on it and report the person, and the person will get put on an improvement plan. That's it. Then somebody has to walk around them checking everything they do, and trying to mentor them into doing the job properly so your two people down for months until HR will consider thinking about doing something about it.

      And the department was probably short-staffed before losing another staff member to check these kind of problems anyway, further reducing the level of service provided.

      I used to find reports of deaths due to incompetent medical staff in the NHS shocking. Then I worked in the NHS for a while, and my reaction towards such newspaper articles is now more along the lines of "How many people know this person was dangerous and tried to do something about it?"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chinese progressive labour laws

        As an NHS staff member I've been there and done that. You've hit the nail on the head AC. Just one thing to add: Chances are the incompetent person is paid more than the person running around after them picking up the pieces. And that's seen as fair because they've been doing their job (badly) for longer than the other person has been doing both of their jobs (well).

        My corner of the NHS is quite likely to be privatised in the coming decade. I don't fear it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chinese progressive labour laws

      "employers must have mechanisms in place that allow workers to file labour grievances without fear of reprisals."

      I think HP should be forced to implement this rule in its UK subsidiary. If it's good enough for Chinese workers, it's good enough for HPs UK workers.

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  3. Rampant Spaniel

    Sure, HP or whoever doesn't want its vendors to GET CAUGHT using kids to screw together $300 laptops. If you want a laptop that costs sod all every corner will but cut. Just like when you want your microwaveable lasagna to cost 99p you get all the drugged up donkey you deserve in it. At the end of the day it's unrealistic to expect things like this not to happen when we put unrealistic expectations on the supply chain. We get all upset when another iphone\nexus\whatever factory gets raided and they find the employees that haven't been blown up are underage and being forced to work there by their school, but we still want out stuff cheaper than last year. Apple are the worst, they do it to keep their 30% margins.

    1. Thomas 4

      It's not a pretty picture, is it?

      Someone's got to pay for the technology we want. We just don't want it to be us.

  4. unwarranted triumphalism

    The problem is not HP...

    Apple is fundamentally to blame for their ruthless supply-chain cost cutting which has engendered a culture of abuse and exploitation among the suppliers. Unfortunately HP, an innocent party, has unknowingly been caught up in this.

    It seems that HP are making genuine efforts to resolve this unfortunate state of affairs in their own supply chain and should be given credit for it. Meanwhile we have fine words and very little action from Apple, who are the real offenders here.

    1. Joe Drunk

      Re: The problem is not HP...

      As big as an Apple overpriced wizmo gadget that underperforms compared to similar products hater that I am - they didn't invent this. I recall reading about how Nike paid underage kids in Paskistan $2 USD per day to hand sew soccer balls long before the invention of Ipod. Designer label clothes made in sweatshops cost $5 to make and are sold for $200.

      It's standard business practice. Behind every fortune ever made there is a crime.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem is not HP...

      Where's your proof?

      We had bad conditions in the UK when we were an industrial power. This is nothing to do with any company, this is a cultural thing.

      To attract businesses wanting to outsource any outsourcing needs to be cheaper. This means workers getting paid less and working long hours. But even then, the money they take home still makes them comfortably off compared to any other employment prospects in their country.

      What happens eventually is unions change conditions, wages go up, prices of everything in the country goes up too and then the outsourcers move production to the next cheap country of choice.

      I don't see how a company like Apple who regularly audit conditions, drops suppliers if they don't improve is really a bad thing?

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can't have an industrial revolution...

      Are you sure about that being a metaphor? ;)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "minimum legal working age is just 16"

    Same as in the UK then. That's for full-time work of course. The law here also allows 13-year-olds to work for 25 hours a week during school holidays and 12 hours a week during term-time (and no minimum wage for the tykes either).

    It's also legal in the UK to employ sub-teens, including babes in arms (though only in TV, theatre and modelling).

    Maybe the Taiwanese companies should consider moving their factories from mainland China to the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "minimum legal working age is just 16"

      Yebbut... you couldn't actually employ the kids without first getting CRB checks for all the other staff.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HP, Microsoft, Acer and all the rest...

    ...are responsible for the sweatshops in China and the financial wealth for the few who run Foxconn. You can bet Tim Cook isn't sharing his $700 million annual compensation with the children working 12 hours per day at Foxconn nor anyone else slaving away at Foxconn. It's a disgrace for any company to be using these sweatshops to reap financial fortunes but you won't read much about this odious behavior in the media who depend on advertising revenues from the PC industry or the footware industry or all the other industries that are willing to violate human beings in the name of financial greed. Until companies like HP, Microsoft, Apple, Nike and all the rest are held accountable for producing their products in Chinese sweatshops, they will continue to export jobs and use children to produce their products.

    The very simple and effective means to fix the problem is to do what China does to maintain their sweatshops, use high import tariffs. If all countries used the same high tariffs on Chinese produced products as the Chinese use to prevent products from other countries being imported to China, it would no longer be profitable for UK/US and other Western countries to import inferior quaility Chinese produced products. This would in turn re-create the jobs that have been exported to China and resolve the economic problems in Western society. Then China would be forced to address their own economic issues that will not subside by making a few company owners filthy rich at the expense of slave labor. Naturally the Western based companies don't want these high tariffs so they spend a lot of money on politicians to insure that these tariffs are never imposed. This is the very definition of evial and financial greed.

    1. Mephistro
      Thumb Up

      Re: HP, Microsoft, Acer and all the rest...

      Right on the spot! If our rulers were interested in 'doing the right thing' instead of getting rich with the crumbs left by Big Biz, they would be applying import tariffs based on the degree of worker's rights in the producer countries. What? No free labour unions? That's a 10% higher tariff for your goods. Sixty hours a week? Another 15% then. ...

      History has shown time and time again that the wealthy and the powerful won't share their wealth unless they are forced to. It's sad to see how our politicians fill they mouths with words like justice, democracy, labour rights and freedom, while at the same time they work behind the scenes to undermine these concepts.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until they work for a normal salary nothing will change

    HP isn't clamping down on anything. There public decree doesn't mean jack in China. Until politicians work for the salary of a normal employee, the system will not change as they live very well on tax payer money and they kowtow to big money when it comes to legislation. The rich get richer while the poor pays for it all in sweat and taxes. It truly is financially advanatgeous to be unethical and unscrupulous.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody students.

    Get a job... oh.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really want to stop child labor ?

    Really want to stop child labor and worker slaver HP, how about NOT rewarding CEOs , Leo Apthekar, for loosing a breathtaking 13billion dollars in 11 months?!?! and the getting a 30 million dollar bonus for such hard work.

    How about NOT using foreign labor because you know full we'll that China and many other such cheap labor companies all use child and slave labor, yet you will continue to use them so why should they stop.

    Gee do I sound like a former HP employee... Must be all that "Uncompromising Integrity" training bull that former CEOs and Directors obviously should take more than once.

  11. daveeff

    Doing the right thing

    > all that "Uncompromising Integrity" training bull

    Maybe someone is taking it seriously! I'd like to slag off HP but just maybe they are doing the right thing.

    Because HP have a steadier demand (unlike "must have new phone" Apple) they can push harder for this, seasonal demands are a supposed to be a major factor in the employing of students.

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