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© michal mrozek dreamstime.com Electronics Production | December 06, 2012

Alarming conditions in European factories

MakeITfair states that working within the electronic industry in Eastern Europe is often as bad as in Asia. Among others, Samsung and Nokia are singled out.
MakeITfair, a European project that promotes sustainable production and consumption of electronics, is sounding the alarm i a new report about exploited workers within electronics plants in Hungary.

At Nokia's and Samsung's factories workers earn no more than EUR 231 per month and works up to 72 hours per week, at times without overtime pay.

“Even employees with the highest incomes are not able to earn enough for their families, even if both parents are working. Most earn less than the average net monthly earnings of manual workers in the manufacturing sector in Hungary.” said Zsófia Perényi of the Association of Conscious Consumers (ACC), who wrote the report on behalf of makeITfair.

The temporary workers are particularly vulnerable, during peak season they represents as much as 60% of the factory staff. In some cases, the employment last just a couple of days, leading to extremely unstable living conditions for their families.

Hungary has become one of the most important European manufacturing countries for electronics, and production moving home to Europe from Asia usually ends up in Eastern Europe. The main arguments for manufacturing in Hungary are the preferential tax rates, the relatively low wages and the so-called “time-bank system” which makes it legal with working hours of up to 72 hours per week - often without overtime pay.

“Just following the local laws of the production country won’t cut it, not while violating international conventions and the company’s own code of conduct,” said Charlie Aronsson, project manager at the Swedish Fair Trade Center, a member of the European campaign makeITfair.

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