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"Ghastly" conditions at HP, MS, Lenovo factories

updated 03:50 pm EST, Wed February 11, 2009

China factory conditions

The Meitai keyboard factory in Dongguan City in China that produces peripherals for HP, Microsoft, Lenovo and others has been found to offer ghastly working conditions, with employees facing firings for missing three days of work, among other restrictions. The country's National Labor Council found that other alleged infractions can leave employees charged with fines that equal 1.5 days' worth of wages (the equivalent of about $7.20) include being more than an hour late, riding the elevator without permission and chatting at their workstations during work hours, among others.

Apart from being underpaid (at $0.72 per hour), the workers are susceptible to being cheated out of their wages, as the many infractions listed in the Factory Regulations and Discipline manual are written in such a way as to be subjectively judged. The same manual suggests that "employees should actively monitor each other" for violations. Furthermore, they are reportedly denied medical assistance when they are injured in the unsafe working conditions.

Two hours of pay will be deducted for being between one and five mintues late for their shift, putting hands into pockets while inside the factory or workroom and even no lining up correctly while punching time cards or at the cafeteria.

Being docked 4.5-hours of wages is a result of not diligently working or raising their heads to look at any guests or co-workers who arrive, breaking dorm curfew, putting personal effects on their desks or listening to the radio while working. A fine equivalent to seven hours of wages will be imposed for switching dorm beds without permission from management. Leaving a workstation without permission will cost three days' worth of pay.

Other causes for job termination include being part of illegal organizations such as independent unions, human rights organizations and non-state sanctioned religious organizations or disobeying China's one-child policy, among others.

None of the companies involved have commented on the findings, though similar accusations have previously dogged larger contractors like Foxconn, which have allegedly overworked employees making iPods and other electronics for Western firms. [via BoingBoing]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Who cares, right, so long as we get our keyboards, TVs, clothes and toys nice and cheap? Isn't that the goal of the American consumer, to save money? After all, having lost our manufacturing jobs to China, we can hardly afford to buy goods made in humane working conditions ...

  1. QualleyIV

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: So?

    The thing is, we as Americans really don't care. People already (unjustifiably) complain about Macs being too expensive. Just imagine how much more it would cost if the same machines were made using labor that cost 10-20 times more.

    Ultimately, you really can't blame it on the companies that employ these workforces. You get the product made where you can get it made cheapest because that's what your customers care about. If customers asked for products that were made by someone earning $20.00/hr. then you can bet that companies would offer those products just as quickly as they offer products made in China now.

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969


    of course you can

    "Ultimately, you really can't blame it on the companies that employ these workforces."

    That's bull. Of course the companies that implement those practices are responsible, or more importantly the people who put those practices in place and enforce it are responsible for their actions.

    If you told me that you'd be willing to pay me $1 to mow your lawn, does that mean I should do whatever it takes to do that? Maybe I could kidnap some kids to work as my lawn-mowing slaves. I wouldn't be "blamed," right, because the problem is that you wanted your lawn mowed for a buck.

    I imagine your point was that it's also the responsibility of companies to oversee their subcontractors and of consumers to only do business with companies that act ethnically. I can certainly agree with that. I suspect HP and Microsoft will at least threaten to pull their business from this particular sweatshop.

    But my point is that everyone is responsible for their actions no matter what the economic climate. If you can only win the contract for making the next HP printer by cheating your employees and treating them like slaves, then don't bid on that contract.

  1. QualleyIV

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: of course you can

    No, I meant what I wrote. You can't blame it on the companies. The sole responsibility of a company is to act in the best interests of it's shareholders. In this (or any other) economic climate, it would be a death sentence for a company to chose not to use the lowest cost source of labor that it can find. As I said before, very few people would be willing to shell out $10,000 for a laptop made in the U.S. when another company sells the same product for $2,500ódespite what those people think about the conditions under which it was produced. You may not like to think that people think this way, but you are simply wrong...

    Also, this isn't an issue with one particular swetshop, it's a whole country (and they're not the only one by a long shot). Nevertheless, let me know when you stop buying products that are made in China and then maybe I'll consider your argument a little more plausible...

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    My goal is to spend as much as humanly possible on every little thing that I buy, so that I can feel superior to all you inconsiderate cheap b*stards who have to live on a budget in order to get by.

    Right. Nice broad brush you've got there.

    If you told me that you'd be willing to mow my lawn for $1, I might think that was odd if everyone else wanted $30. Given your scenario, the rest of the market would be willing to do it for under $2 ('cause everything's cheaper over there, get it?).

    Now, I'm not saying I'm for abuse (far from it), but seriously, if you've got the extra scratch to pay double or triple for similar goods from first-world countries, good for you. Me, I don't have that luxury.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This amounts to

    people wanting things they can't afford.

    For a long time, the US economy 'bought American', so the economy was kept in check.

    Now, we MUST buy things cheaply from foreign markets just to stay even, because everybody wants things that they couldn't afford if other American's made them.

  1. benbo3551

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not buying lenovo

    The Chinese have such atrocious labor issues regardless of what they are making. I can't help buying some things from china... nuts + bolts, other cheap c***... but for high ticket purchases like a $1500 labtop there is no way I am supporting Lenovo. I love their computers and would happily invest in one, but they need to grow up as a company and start treating their employees right before they have a PR disaster. I have been telling my friends this, as well as others. China has become the exact opposite of a socialist society and a scary kleptocarcy. I will look to other companies, but unfortunately so many of the components are produced badly. Atleast Dell is from Texas... I wish there computers were of higher quality.

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