The Chinese suppliers for Dell and several other large computer companies have been accused of violating labor rights in four factories that are located in both the Jiangsu and Guangdong parts of China.
The Danish group DanWatch, paid particularly close attention to Dell in their report, because the company is a major supplier of computers to the Denmark government. They found that working conditions were very poor, with workers having to do their jobs in areas which contained toxic fumes. Many of the workers were also younger than 18, many of whom lived in dorms that were on the site of the factory, which also had poor living conditions as well. There were also reports that workers were doing many more hours of labor than they were supposed to, under Chinese minimum wage, with some even doing 74 hours a week.
Dell tried to cover their tracks a bit with their response from their VP of Corporate Responsibility, Trisha Thompson, who said that, “when the DanWatch inquiry came in, we responded with a statement saying if there were issues brought up in their letter that were not identified in our recent audit findings, our Supply Chain Social and Environmental Responsibility (SCSER) team would investigate.”
“Since then, we have engaged the leadership teams at each of the suppliers in the report, collaborated on corrective action plans and have held regular meetings to ensure progress is being made on the plans,” she also said. “We will conduct a follow-up audit on all serious issues before any actions will be considered closed.”
As mentioned above, though DanWatch’s report focused on Dell, those factories also made computer parts for HP, Microsoft, Samsung and Asus as well. Eva Hesse Lundström, the editor for DanWatch, believes that theses conditions are partially brought about with by the competition between these companies.
“When companies compete on supplying computers in the cheapest way possible, and when our public buyers aim for the cheapest wares on the market, a high human cost is paid,” she said. “Our research shows that the conditions at Dell’s suppliers violate [International Labour Organization] conventions and Chinese labor law as well as Dell’s own policy.”