Fair Trade Electronics: Chinese workers abused despite audits by US firms

Summary:Will US companies take action against their sub-contractors?

(Image: Damien Van Achter)s

Economists Guojun He and Jeffrey Perloff at the University of California, Berkeley, have published a study that details widespread illegal working conditions among Chinese companies despite the scrutiny of Western audits.

more than half of Chinese employees in audited firms worked more than the legal limit of 44 hours per week. Between one third and one half of those working overtime did not receive legally required overtime wages for the extra hours.

The study, Does Customer Auditing Help Chinese Workers?, categorically shows that the audits announced with great fanfare by Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and other firms such as Nike are not working. It's time to move beyond PR rhetoric.

They have the evidence from a neutral third party to act and be seen to be tough with their sub-contractors. Otherwise, people will talk about them, and it'll be a conversation about hypocrites.

My advice to those companies: "It's time to act, and it's good for your brand, too."

Let's have fair trade electronics now.

Related story

Topics: Apple


In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to become a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley. Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leading comput... Full Bio

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