Poor working conditions exist in factories owned by subcontractors for Acer and Fujitsu Siemens Computers. Employees work long days in an unhealthy environment for a wage that is insufficient to live on. Such is the situation revealed in research conducted by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) on the ICT hardware sector.
SOMO conducted research in nine factories in China and the Philippines that supply parts for Acer and Fujitsu Siemens Computers. Working conditions in these factories are simply appalling. SOMO researcher Esther de Haan explains, “Employees in China and the Philippines work 70 to 84 hours per week and, even in the best cases, rarely have a day off. Salaries are not sufficient to cover even the basic cost of living, and there is inadequate compensation for overtime work. Acer and Fujitsu Siemens Computers allow their products to be manufactured in these factories, but they do not take responsibility for the poor working conditions nor do they take appropriate measures to improve the situation.”
SOMO researchers also encountered critical health situations in the factories. Unprotected workers handle toxic chemicals in poorly ventilated spaces. Factory employees complain about nausea, dizziness, and skin allergies. Workers are deprived of the chance to better their own situation by means of a labour union; in the Philippines, the management threatens workers with dismissal to keep them from organising, and workers in China are only allowed to associate with the state-sponsored labour union.
Production is being increasingly outsourced by the big-name brands, and there is a notable lack of transparency in the supply chains. The electronics industry recently established a code of conduct for the entire sector. This code is a step in the right direction, although it still requires improvement in many areas. Acer and Fujitsu Siemens Computers, however, do not belong to the group of companies that subscribe to the code. Neither do these two companies deal with social issues in their own code of conduct, although they do have guidelines for environmental concerns.
In reaction to SOMO’s research, Acer and Fujitsu Siemens Computers revealed that they do not feel responsible for working conditions outside their own factories. Ignoring their supply chain responsibility shows that Acer and Fujitsu Siemens maintain a myopic interpretation of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The companies do not do nearly enough with respect to CSR, especially given that, in the ICT hardware sector, little is still produced in the big companies’ own factories.
The information in this news item is based on company profiles of Acer and Fujitsu Siemens Computers published by SOMO.
The company profiles were created for SOMO’s research on the ICT hardware sector, which is published in the report CSR Issues in the ICT Hardware Manufacturing Sector.