In December 2008 SACOM and WEED published ‘The Dark Side of Cyberspace’, a report on labor conditions in the Chinese electronics industry. The report uncovered serious violations of workers rights such as excessive overtime hours, payment below the legal minimum wage and an authoritarian system of labor control. In the report a number of brand name companies that source from the researched factories are named, including Fujitsu Siemens Computers. Following-up on the report now proves difficult due to the stance some of the companies are taking.

Some companies were open to contact with WEED en SACOM, the authors of the report. Following the release of the report, SACOM and WEED have been communicating closely for example with the Taiwanese-invested electronics company Compeq Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Further, on March 24, 2009, top-level management from Compeq, Compal Electronics, Dell met with SACOM to share good practices of worker representation and sustainable production. Hit hard by the global financial crisis, Compeq laid off some of its workforce at its Huizhou facility, but quickly managed to recruit new workers early 2009. SACOM was impressed by these companies’ strong commitment to continuously improving labor and environmental standards in the electronics industry.

In contrast to these companies’ responsible behavior,the Hong Kong-owned companies PC Partner and Excelsior Electronics (Dongguan) have refused to share information about their workplace conditions for the full three months since they received the report. In correspondence with SACOM and WEED, Alex Wong,
Chief Human Resource & Administration Officer at Excelsior, stated that he did not “agree with most of the allegations” in the report. However, he failed to provide the concerned public with any evidence that could show the report to be mistaken.

Worse yet, Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) – while awarding Excelsior the ‘Preferred Chinese Supplier in 2007’ status – positions itself as merely “an observer” in this serious case of worker exploitation. Behind the facade of the FSC code of conduct, there seems no real effort on FSC’s part to collaborate
with Excelsior to take concrete corrective actions.

In the follow-up of the publishing of the report, meetings with the researched companies were scheduled, including a meeting with Fujitsu Siemens Computers.

“We cannot accept Fujitsu Siemens Computers’ defining itself as an ‘observer’ which amounts to denying its responsibility for its supply chain. That
forced us to cancel the April 2 meeting with FSC and Excelsior”, explains Jenny Chan of SACOM.

Read the full press release by SACOM and WEED, dated April 1, 2009.