Hewlett Packard is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electronics and computers. They are taking a stand and hoping to reform a problematic labor practice within Chinese factories. Other large electronic manufactures are addressing this dilemma as well.
The problem lies in instructions given by the Chinese government ordering schools to provide labor for factories with high demand. The labor force used to keep up with orders coming in from the big name companies are made up of high school students, vocational students and temporary workers. Schools are compensated by the government to fill these positions. The troubles have been growing over the large number of issues students have cited about the administration policies inside the factories. Students have complained they are forced to work long hours on short notice in positions that have no relevance to their studies.
The practice of hiring students as temporary workers has been gaining criticism by international companies. The companies imagine their reputations are being affected by China’s hiring practices during high production times. Some companies believe that student labor should not be used in any of the factories. H.P. has taken a firm stance ensuring students benefit from their effort and will continue to push for better labor reform in China.
Enforcing labor laws has been difficult in China and H.P. is putting forth a strong effort to gain compliance. Over the last decade, the labor problem has been overlooked. Other companies, like Apple, have joined the Fair Labor Association to help create new processes that give companies more information about workers in a given factory.
H.P. is giving its suppliers in China a set of guidelines to be followed. Those guidelines include the ability for workers to engage in a formal grievance process without repercussions. H.P. also asks that students not be allowed to work in industries that are outside of their field of study. The company plans on holding training sessions starting this March, with suppliers and government officials, hoping to lead other companies to follow suit.