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Electronics Production | November 19, 2009

Study: Working Conditions in EMS still need improving

Computers, mobile phones, TVs and cameras – electronic gadgets ease our everyday life and most cannot imagine them gone. Thailand is the largest exporter of hard drives in the world and China accounts for around 25% of global electronics production. Electronics defines the lives of millions of people in these countries.

"It is primarily young women that are employed in the electronics industry. They labour at an assembly line up to 16 hours a day – every day – endangering their health for a pittance", says Christina Schroeder from the organisation Südwind. Many investment incentives have been brought forward by the Thai government, to lure the big electronics companies. They can produce tax-free for up to 11 years; after that there is still the possibility to close shop and open a new facility in a neighbouring province and with a new name. Most will lay off the entire workforce with the closure and hire new staff – for a minimum wage of around €4 per day – at the new location. Many of the workers depend on overtime (2 hours per day) and shiftwork to make ends meet, the report continues. "With overtime and night work, I just about get by. However, I cannot put something aside for emergencies”, a worker told the organisation (on grounds of anonymity). In addition, all workers can be suspended for 5 to 7 days if errors occur in the production. The image has a zoom-function. The computer industry is faced with enormous requirements however. Ordering, production and delivery of a computer must be in timely unison. By outsourcing the production to sub-and sub-subcontractors, hundreds of companies will be involved in the production of a computer. Hewlett-Packard is said to work with more than 7000 suppliers (from the manufacturing of part to the final assembly of the products), the group points out. The supplier Meitai Plastics and Electronics, Dongguan City, China is another example of the report. The company produces Computer Keyboards for companies such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM. One worker describes the workday as follows: "In a large hall, the workers sit on wooden stools at an assembly line. There are over 500 keyboards per hour. All of us have 1.1 second to insert one key. After six or seven keys, the keyboard moves on to the next worker in the line. The assembly line does not stop and workers are forced to work 12 hours a day, overtime is usually required. This leaves no time for toilet breaks. It is forbidden to chat with you colleagues or raise your head." The image has a zoom-function. Workers at the supplier Excelsior Electronics Dongguan in China's reported a total of 370 working hours per month, which translates to around 200 hours in overtime. This is a serious violation to the statutory provisions in China – overtime is strictly curbed to a maximum of 36 hours per month. But not only the working conditions in Asia have not much to recommend themselves. Foxconn has hired about 50% foreign staff at their Czech production units – from other Eastern European countries, Vietnam or Mongolia. "These are hired through agencies and their residence permit is strictly tied to their job. This makes them particularly vulnerable to exploitation. They cannot afford to rent a flat and live in dormitories”, the report continues. ----- Source: Clean-IT Image Source: Sacom
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