Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights in its latest report, reveals VTech’s electronics factory sweatshop working conditions in Guangdong, China. The reports states that the VTech factory’s 10,000 employees are made to work 12-15 hour days, including compulsory overtime, receives substandard wages and are miles away from getting health and social security benefits each year. The company shown in the report includes US companies AT&T, Motorola and retail biggie Walmart engaging in labor and human rights violations activities.
“If things continue to go like this, there will be more jumpers,” said one worker in confidence. “Sometimes I want to die,” another reportedly admitted. “I work like hell every day for such a dull life. I can’t find a reason to live. Given that living is too tiring, seeking death might not be a silly thing!” Charles Kernaghan, director of the organization behind the report: “VTech is a nasty and cruel sweatshop, which has been exploiting workers for years.”
According to the report:
- At VTech, 30,000 workers toil 12 to 15 hours a day, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 or 10:30 p.m. All overtime is mandatory, exceeding China’s overtime limit by 237 to 273 percent!
- Workers are forced to stand all day. It is exhausting and their feet swell up.
- Assembly line workers must race to complete one operation every 2.25 to 2.8 seconds—17,600 operations a day and 105,600 operations a week. The work is furious, exhausting and mind-numbing.
- Acting as factory police, security guards often beat the workers.
- Workers are so exhausted they cut their lunch break short in order to race back to sleep under their work benches.
- The $1.09 an hour wage is below subsistence levels, trapping the workers in primitive dorms they describe as “pigsties,” where they sleep on plywood bunk beds without mattresses and use plastic buckets to wash themselves.
- Cafeteria food is “awful” and often includes potatoes that are rotten.
- Workers failing to meet their mandatory production goals are forced to keep working without pay.
- VTech issues “Employee Criminal Records,” and hands out demerits and stiff fines for perceived infractions of company rules.
- VTech management appears to be cheating its workers of between $7.4 and $12.3 million in social security health and pension benefits each year.
- Conditions are so harsh and cruel at VTech that some 80 percent of the workers flee each year!
- “Bathroom Democracy” is breaking out at VTech, where the bathroom walls are the only place workers can speak without fear. It’s hard to imagine how desperate and angry the workers are. One worker wrote: “Don’t be too cocky as managers. One day you will die at the factory gate.” (No managers have been assaulted at VTech. But the workers are filled with anger and resentment at how they are treated.)
- “VTech is a nasty and cruel sweatshop, which has been exploiting workers for years,” said Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights. “It is sad that powerful corporations like AT&T, Motorola and Wal-Mart have not lifted a finger to demand that even China’s weak labor laws be respected. This is one of the reasons that the U.S. had a $295.5 billion trade deficit with China in 2011, which cost 2.8 million Americans their jobs. If nothing changes, we will be locked into the Race to the Bottom, as workers compete based on who will accept the lowest wages, the least benefits and most miserable working conditions.”
- VTech has licensing agreements with AT&T and Motorola and is a major original equipment maker for Sony and Philips. VTech phones and infants’ and children’s electronic learning products are sold at Wal-Mart, Target and other retailers.
- VTech is also the exclusive supplier of all corded and cordless phones for Deutsche Telecom in Germany and supplies all fixed line telephones to Telstra in Australia.
- In fiscal year 2012, VTech revenues reached $1.785 billion.
- The U.S., Canadian, European, Australian and Japanese corporations sourcing production to VTech must take immediate steps to end the sweatshop abuse at their supplier, VTech, and demand that the core International Labour Organization internationally recognized worker rights standards are enforced to protect China’s workers.
Update: VTech today responded to certain allegations made by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights regarding operations of its factories in mainland China. VTech is a responsible and caring employer wherever it has operations, and this includes mainland China.