NLC: U.S.-Owned Hi-Tech Jabil Factory in China Run Like Minimum Security Prison

Jun 29, 2010, 10:26 ET from National Labor Committee

Producing for Whirlpool, GE, HP, IBM

PITTSBURGH, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Labor Committee is releasing a 30-page report documenting the illegal and harsh sweatshop conditions at the Jabil Circuit factory in Guangzhou, China, where over 6,000 workers—many of them illegal temporary workers—produce hi-tech products for HP, IBM, Intel, Cisco and Jabil—all of whom are Board members of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition.  The new report includes worker interviews, photographs and company documents smuggled out of the factory.

Cruel and inhuman conditions at Jabil:

* The factory operates around the clock, with two 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.  Workers are at the factory 84 hours a week.

* Assembly line workers are prohibited from sitting down and must stand for their entire 12-hour shift.  Workers report their necks, shoulders, arms and legs become stiff and sore, and their feet swell up.

* Workers are allowed to use the bathroom just once in the regular eight-hour shift.

* Jabil hires a huge number of illegal temp workers and pits them against the full time workers.

* Security guards and managers patrol the shop floor as if they are police overseeing their prisoners.  Workers who make a mistake are forced to write a "letter of repentance" begging forgiveness—which they must read aloud in front of all their coworkers.  They can also be made to stay after work—unpaid—to clean toilets.

* Six workers share each crowded dorm room, sleeping on double-level bunk beds.  Seventy-five percent of the workers say the factory food is "awful."

* Workers paid a base wage of 76 cents an hour through April, when they received a 17-cent increase, to 93 cents an hour, which is well below subsistence levels.

NLC director Charles Kernaghan, who authored the new report asks, "What happened to all the promises U.S. companies made—that if they could set up operations in China, they would, by example, lift human, women's and worker rights standards for China's workers?  Instead, U.S. companies bought into the 'China model' of exploitation, pitifully low wages, grueling hours, miserable living conditions and zero rights."  Kernaghan adds, "Corporate monitoring never works.  Five out of eight of the companies on the Board of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition have been producing their goods for years under illegal, harsh sweatshop conditions at the Jabil factory!"

SOURCE National Labor Committee