Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Report from Hong Kong on sweatshop

After long effort, the Hong Kong-based student organization SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior 大学师生监察无良企业行动) published a report on Dell Computer and its suppliers’ misconducts related to labor rights on mainland China. After searching through data, interviewing workers in person and referring to materials, SACOM decries Dell and its suppliers’ partial failure to implement the Chinese Labor Law, and gives an insight into the sweatshop on Dongguang (东莞),Guangdong province in the report Dell—The Manufacturing of Sweatshop Computers Behind the Zero-Inventory Strategy . The report, fully cited in 163.com and then circulated in several main domestic websites, received netizens’ concern.

The report discusses the working condition of several first-tier and second-tier suppliers of Dell, and identifies the problems troubling workers are illegal wage and working hours, employment without labor contract, inhuman management practices, and use of child labor in peak production period. The sub-contract suppliers of Dell, due to the intense competition, have to exploit workers to gain profit margin. The zero-inventory strategy and stunning profit of the trans-national enterprise, accordingly, are founded considerably on the toil of Chinese workers. SACOM appeals to Dell to take its duty and assist its business partners to guarantee the labor rights.

The replies on Skyline (天涯), a popular net forum that has cited the report showed people’s concern.

Soul of Money said

“血汗工厂” 这就是中国腾飞的秘密

Sweatshop is the secret of the prosperous China.

Alex0755 moaned:

低层人民要生存,那些所谓的”血汗工厂”总是会有源源不断的工人进去.

The grass-root have to survive so that people would endlessly go to the sweatshops.

Most netizens’ showed appreciation to the Hong Kong students.

Farmer With No Land (失地农民) said:

感谢香港的同学们!

Thank you, Hong Kong students!

More people compared them to the domestic college students:

Who_knows said:

什么时候国内的大学也能出这样的报告,中国才有希望

China would have hope only when domestic colleges could have such reports.

No_Eating_Pork said:

很遗憾不是我们大陆自己的学生写出这样的报告

What a pity that it is not by out mainland students.

苏州过后没艇搭 said

为香港同学喝彩,为内地沉默的羔羊默哀

Acclaim for Hong Kong students, mourn for the silent lambs on mainland.

Learning_To_Host said

大陆的血汗工厂
需要香港学生呐喊
自从89后中国没有大学了

The sweatshops on mainland need Hong Kong students’ battle cry. After 89, mainland China has no colleges.

But there are also disapproval ideas against Hong Kong:

zztao2008 said

香港同学靠大陆输血吃香的喝辣的,又来指责大陆

The Hong Kong students eat the good enjoy the good based on mainland’s blood transfusion, but now they came back to criticize us.

thrall1976 at once rebuked:

这份报告指责的是大陆么?Dell代表中国?

Is this a report debasing mainland? Dell means China?

But the ideas are obviously divergent on how to solve the problems
一个人的冠盖京华 thought:

发达国家自己不愿意做的,都放到中国,印度这些地方。低廉的劳动力,肆意破坏环境。。。这些都老生常谈了。但是,没有了这些,中国能拿出去和人竞争的还有多少?中国的2位数的发展哪里来?
难,难,难。

What the developed countries are not willing to do are all moved to places such as China and India. The cheap labor and destructed environment are all clichés. But without this stuff, what can China have to compete with others? Where could the two-digit growth come from?
Hard, hard, hard.

Song-road said:

等到问题解决了,这些厂商已经搬到越南去了。

Nothing can really solve the problem. After it’s solved, the factories have already been moved to Vietnam.

Old_Shield thought consumers are condemnable as well:

戴尔是否可以指责每个消费向戴尔发出的低价订单?
当你买电脑杀价的时候,你就是跟戴尔一样,在发出一份低价订单,明白?指责别人的时候,想想自己。
你跟米商砍价的时候,有没有想过农民的待遇?

Could Dell reprehend consumers who ordered products in low price?
When you bargain for computers, you are just like Dell that makes order forms in low price (which reduce the wage). When you decry others you’ve got firstly think about yourself.
Have you ever think of farmers when bargaining with rice merchants?

But there existed a paradox:

如果你看不惯戴尔,停止对它发出低价订单,让它破产,这样,工人就不必接受低待遇了。确切地说,就算工人想接受低待遇,也不可能了,因为他们失去工作机会了。

If you are averse to Dell, then just stop buying its products and bankrupt it so that the workers won’t suffer from low wages. But accurately, they lose the jobs.

Rebuking a comment that attributed the low wage to supply and demand, HuaziGG stated:

供求关系只是其中一个方面。单个的工人是没有议价能力的,我们的工人又没有工会。香港学生抵制戴尔,相当于起工会的作用,协助工人讨价还价。通过戴尔施加压力,代工厂将改善工人的待遇。

Supply and demand is just one aspect. The single worker has no power to bargain and yet the workers have no right to organize labor unions. When Hong Kong students repelled Dell, they performed the function of labor union to aid workers on bargain. To pressure Dell, workers can improve their condition.

Hui_Li sighed:

这是无奈的啊
大陆不做这些代工自有其他地方的会做,做了还能养活一大批工人,如果没有这么多的代工工厂就会有很多了失业,最可耻的就是dell了.

What a pity.
If mainland doesn’t do this then there will be other places to do so. Many workers can survive if they rely on these factories. Otherwise many would lose their jobs. Dell is the most shameless.

What is the way out remains unknown, but after all, a heart that cares about motherland is always welcomed. When we appreciate the aid from Hong Kong, we had better introspect why we can’t take care of our duty well.

4 comments

  • D. Sherman

    Every nation currently classified as being “developed” has had it’s past with the exploitation of children, poor pay and working conditions for factory workers.

    This is to be expected as China is simply catching up with the reste of the developed world. In time China will be a fully developed economy and working condtions will improve and higher wages will follow. This of course, like eery other developed country, will cause China to lose these jobs to less developed countries.

  • I have planned to buy a laptop computer. Because I live in Xiamen, a city where Dell headquartered, so I have planned to buy it from considering the convenience of customer service. But when I heard of this news, I thought I had better to make another choice.

  • I need more information for my homework!!!

  • It is amazing to see how capitalism and the desire for profit rule the world – and some Chinese companies are apparently already considering relocating their production sites to even cheaper countries as wages in China already begin to rise.
    Let’s see where this all leads in the end when China is a fully developed country…

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.