HP Wades into the Child Labor Fray in China
February 11, 2013 7:54 AM
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HP says no more than 20% of factories workforce should be student or temporary labor
HP has become the latest major electronics manufacturer to take a stance against child and student labor in China. HP is one of the largest makers of computers in the world and has recently set new limits on employment of students and temporary agency workers at factories that build its products in China.
HP's move comes after Apple,
all took a stand against child labor. The New York Times reports that Chinese factories have relied on high school students, vocational school students, and temporary workers for a long time to cope with surges in orders. These temporary workers are utilized because factory labor is becoming difficult to secure.
The problem for students is that some have complained that school administrators have ordered them to put in long hours at Chinese factories on short notice in tasks that have little or nothing to do with their studies. These factories reportedly pay school administrators a bonus for providing labor.
The New York Times reports that Apple announced last month that it would be making its suppliers provide more information about student workers to allow the company to closely monitor labor practices. HP has now announced that all work must be done voluntarily and that students in temporary workers should be allowed to "to leave work at any time upon reasonable notice without negative repercussions, and they must have access to reliable and reprisal-free grievance mechanisms."
HP's regulations also require that any work performed by students "must complement the primary area of study." An HP spokesperson said that the company would hold training sessions for suppliers beginning in March of this year. The company is also opening discussions with government officials, nongovernment organizations, and educational institutions concerning child labor and student labor. HP's goal is to limit the combined number of students and temporary workers employed in any factory at no more than 20% during peak periods.
New York Times
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2/13/2013 6:47:07 PM
In this case you can't have your cake and eat it too. Dirt cheap labor and high labor standards don't necessarily go hand in hand. Raising labor standards in China will only make their labor cost higher, and then they will have to find another populous to exploit.
2/14/2013 2:44:19 PM
By American standards, they are exploited, but these jobs are highly sought after in China.
When I worked for a call center, we had trainers come over from the Philippines. They were essentially slaves by consent. They signed a contract when they signed up and that gave the company nearly 100% control over their lives. They didn't have a choice to come to the US and were here for at least 6 months. All 4 of them were housed in a 2 bedroom apartment and paid a very small salary ($300/month or something close to it.) We were appalled.
The thing is, that is a choice job in the Philippines. They worked hard to get into that position and beat out hundreds of candidates. Their families were proud of them and they were happy.
You also can't judge child labor in foreign countries by American standards. In many places, if you ban child labor, those children will starve because the parents can't afford to make ends meet without the kids working.
Also, populace is the word you're looking for. China is populous (having many people), and the people in it are its populace.
2/15/2013 12:52:07 PM
I don't disagree with you in that those are good jobs and that we are very much improving the lively hood/economy of those regions. It doesn't change the fact that if Americans want to hold other countries to our labor standards then we are not going to get the cheap labor. It's all just a matter of which side of the fence you are on.
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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