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]