A follow-up report on two suppliers in Guangdong

One of every two mobile phones is manufactured in China. In 2008 makeITfair published a report about factories supplying the big brand name companies with components for their mobile phones. This follow-up re-examines two of the factories where workers took to the streets in 2007 protesting against unacceptable and illegal working conditions. Since then a new owner, who took over the plants in 2008, has invested and made efforts to set up management systems and to improve conditions at the sites.

In September 2008, makeITfair published a report entitled Silenced to Deliver: Mobile phone manufacturing in China and the Philippines1, in which four Chinese factories in Guangdong were examined. Problems discovered included health and safety issues, excessive working hours, low wages and involuntary overtime. Workers were punished with wage deductions if they made mistakes, even when the mistakes were due to the unacceptable working conditions offered by the employer. As a follow-up to this report, workers and management at two of these factories, as well as their customers, were interviewed again during the fall of 2009. This follow-up is based on interviews with 64 workers at two factories producing chargers and transformers for four of the market leader mobile phone companies of the world: Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and LG Electronics.2 The interviews were conducted during the latter half of 2009 by people linked to universities in mainland China and Hong Kong. They possess earlier experience in factory surveys and are specialised in social work, migrant workers and labour issues. They were selected due to their earlier experience and their independence from government and particular enterprises.

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publication cover - Mobile Phone Production in China