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July 2011 | Angeline Albert
should sign long-term contracts with suppliers to mitigate the risk of staff
experiencing “inhuman” working conditions in factories.
was the message from Traidcraft which
promotes fair trade for workers, in response to a report that employees in
electronics manufacturing plants in China are enduring excessive overtime hours
and other poor working practices.
by China Labor Watch (CLW) between October 2010 to June 2011
at electronics factories in China’s Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces uncovered
excessive working hours, especially during the peak manufacturing season from
September to January, when purchasing orders are at their highest.
Spray, director of policy at Traidcraft, which publishes responsible purchasing
reports in conjunction with CIPS, said: “It’s mostly a question of following International Labour Organization conventions. When purchasers are
buying from Chinese companies, it is in their interests to put suppliers on
reasonably long contracts. This gives an assurance to suppliers that they will
get long-term orders, which will make them more likely to hire a workforce for
longer and not temporary workers. They will then be more likely to implement
reasonable labour practices.”
said procurement teams should also be very clear about what they want in the
terms of the contract. They should also listen to the needs of suppliers to
avoid risks being passed down the supply chain.
report, Tragedies of Globalization: The Truth Behind Electronics Sweatshops, published
earlier this month, revealed staff were required to work between 36 and 160
hours of overtime per month.
the “inhuman” practices uncovered included those with “a high level of labour
intensity”. In one case workers were required to complete their assigned task
every three seconds, while having to stand for a ten-hour period.
both multinational brand companies and Chinese manufactures seek to reduce
purchasing and manufacturing costs to the lowest level possible, the safety and
well being of Chinese factory workers is sacrificed,” said CLW.
added a “race-to-the-bottom” of order prices comes at a severe cost to the
average Chinese factory worker, as their wages significantly decrease and their
working conditions worsen.