Major labor violations in a Quanta Computer factory

Sony sells off its laptop business and Apple stays silent


NEW YORK – Days after news that Sony is selling its laptop business to a Japanese investment fund, China Labor Watch (CLW) has published an investigative report that reveals major labor abuses in Sony’s largest computer supplier factory in China.

A CLW undercover investigation of a Quanta Computers factory in Shanghai, China that manufactures computers for Sony, Apple, Dell, and HP has exposed 15 sets of labor violations, including more than $1.8 million in monthly unpaid overtime; mandatory overtime hours more than two times in excess of statutory limits; illegally insufficient training, including only 10 minutes of safety training; illegal hiring discrimination; excessive use of dispatch workers; wage delays; poor-quality dorms with 12 people per room; insufficient safety equipment; abusive management; a lack of effective grievance channels, and more.

In November and December, CLW sent letters about these disturbing findings to Sony, Apple, Dell, and HP. Within two weeks, every company had responded with the exception of Apple, which has to date stayed silent.

CLW’s undercover investigation of Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City revealed that during peak seasons, workers must accept 80 or more hours of overtime per month, two times in excess of Chinese legal limits. On top of this, workers were required to attend meetings before and after their shifts that added up to 30 or more minutes of unpaid overtime per day per worker. With 60,000 workers, the factory may be failing to pay its workers more than $1.8 million per month during peak seasons.

The large majority of workers at the Quanta factory were dispatch workers, who had to pay illegal fees to be hired and signed contracts with the dispatch companies instead of the factory. This system of third-party labor contractors is so prone to abuse that a new Chinese law coming into effect on March 1, 2014 will limit the percentage of dispatch workers at any given employer to no more than 10 percent.

The Quanta factory is also riddled with safety concerns, including inadequate pre-job physical exams, only 10 minutes of safety-related training before workers take their posts, and insufficient protective equipment. This is despite production facilities being full of dust, laser radiation, and various kinds of harmful chemicals, including toluene, formaldehyde, lead smoke, ethanolamine, butanone, isopropyl, and carbon dioxide.

CLW’s investigation was carried out in August and September 2013. During this time CLW sent an undercover investigator into the factory as a worker to observe labor conditions firsthand and interview workers. A separate investigator also carried out worker interviews around the factory.

Download the full English-language report on Quanta.

Download the full Chinese-language report on Quanta.