HP Directs Its Chinese Suppliers To Limit Student Labor

By Binu Paul email: b.paul@mobilenapps.com | Feb 08, 2013 10:52 AM EST

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Placing a new set of workplace regulations, Hewlett-Packard has directed its Chinese suppliers to limit the employment of students and temporary agency workers at factories across China.

HP's move, especially after Apple imposed similar terms to increase scrutiny of student workers in China, indicates the rising concern in the tech community about the labor practices in the country. Students and temporary agency workers are often used to meet the heavy production demands in Chinese factories.

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Giving out the regulations to its Chinese suppliers, HP directed them that all workers should be employed voluntarily and student and temporary workers should be "permitted to leave work at any time upon reasonable notice without negative repercussions, and they must have access to reliable and reprisal-free grievance mechanisms," The New York Times reported.

According to the rules, student work must complement the primary area of study and this would exclude a huge number of students whose studies are not connected to electronics or manufacturing in anyways.

Although the Chinese factories find it hard to get enough manpower at times as they struggle to keep up with production demand, HP's workplace rules would not be a major trouble for them as the company has a relatively steady demand through the year for its products unlike Apple.

HP Spokesman Howard Clabo told The New York Times that the company will soon begin training sessions for suppliers and will initiate discussion sessions for government officials, nongovernment organizations and academics to press for strict adherence to workplace regulations. The company will "cap the combined number of students and temp workers at any supplier factory at no more than 20 percent of labor during peak periods, which tend to be during summer vacations and the lengthy Chinese New Year holiday," the report said.

Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn has been criticized for its treatment of workers in China. The company that employs more than a million staff, has been under fire for many reasons, including employing workers as young as 14-year-old, requiring its employees to work excessive overtime, and for payments too low to cover basic living expenses.

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