HP Cracks Down on Student Labor in Chinese Factories

Paul Lilly

In China, it's not usual for factories to pluck students from nearby schools to help with increased orders.

Heweltt-Packard , the world's largest supplier of PCs (just ahead of Lenovo), is demanding that its Chinese suppliers follow a new set of guidelines as it pertains to student labor. Factories in China have come under heavy scrutiny during the past couple of years due to complaints of labor violations, underage workers, and employee suicides, all of which are at least partially related to the rabid demand for electronic products from the likes of Apple, HP, and others.

According to a report in The New York Times , it's not uncommon for Chinese factories to commission high school and vocational school students during peak production periods. Students end up working long, tedious hours in a field that has nothing to do with their studies, often times without any choice in the matter.

HP is hoping to change that. The PC maker issued a new set of rules to its suppliers in China that says all work must be voluntary, and that students and temporary workers must have the freedom to leave the workplace at any time, with reasonable notice, and without negative repercussions. The new rules also say that any work performed by students "must complement the primary area of study."

Complying with the new rules is another story, though it should be easier for Chinese factories to abide by HP's guidelines, given that demand for its products stays relatively steady throughout the year, as opposed to Apple, which sees a large spike in demand any time a new product is launched.

Image Credit: Flickr (vernieman)

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