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China – Hewlett-Packard pushes for harder rules on temporary workers

08 February 2013

Multinational computer and technology company Hewlett-Packard (HP) has issued new guidelines to its Chinese suppliers in order to limit the employment of temporary agency workers and students in factories.

The firm asked suppliers to comply with the guidelines immediately as part of a move to address a dramatic increase of temporary and student workers across Chinese factories. Electronic firms in China take advantage of hiring these workers to meet production and manufacturing needs. This practice has come under criticism with some labour groups claiming the workers are forced to work at factories.

The New York Times reports on Friday that HP is pushing for harder rules to protect workers. Work must be voluntary and temporary workers as well as students should be free “to leave work at any time upon reasonable notice without negative repercussions, and they must have access to reliable and reprisal-free grievance mechanisms,” according to the company.

HP’s vice-president for worldwide supply chain operations, Tony Prophet, told the paper that the technology firm was also imposing a combined 20% quota on the number of students and temporary workers that are allowed to work at supplier factories. The firm plans to cut the quota down to 10% in the future.

“We’re doing this because we think this is an important issue, and there are certainly concerns around it and some ambiguity around the appropriate standards,” said Mr Prophet. 

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