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Jun-20-2012 22:24printcomments

AT&T, Motorola, and Wal-Mart Cheat Workers at Brutal VTech Sweatshop in China

VTech’s regional office for telecommunication products is based in Beaverton, Oregon.

Vtech headquarters
AT&T, Motorola, Wal-Mart and others endorse the China model. "Dongguan is about as well-known as Foxconn in Shenzhen...Plenty of workers live worse lives than those who work at Foxconn." Flickr page for VTech Sweatshop in China

(NEW YORK / PITTSBURGH) - Today the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights is releasing an in-depth report. “VTech Sweatshop in China; AT&T, Motorola, Wal-Mart and others Endorse the China Model” The report is authored by Institute director Charles Kernaghan.

VTech is the world’s largest manufacturer of cordless phones and accounts for over 50% of cord and cordless phone market share in the U.S. VTech has licensing agreements with AT&T and Motorola. The company also produces best-selling children electronic learning products. VTech’s regional office for telecommunication products is based in Beaverton, Oregon.

A Rare Inside Glimpse—China’s Workers Speak Out:

- “VTech is a workshop of blood and tears.”

- “If I stay any longer, I’m going to jump off
our dorm like the Foxconn workers do.”

- “This kind of work-related suicide jump
happens a lot at VTech.”

- “Sometimes I want to die. I work like hell
every day for such a dull life. I can’t find a reason
to live. Given that living is too tiring, seeking
death might not be a silly thing!”


Early morning motivation lecture - Despite the 12-to-15-hour shifts, workers must
report early to work, stand at attention and listen to a motivational lecture from their
supervisor.

Exhausted VTech workers "Dongguan is about as well-known as Foxconn in
Shenzhen...Plenty of workers live worse lives than those who work at Foxconn."

Standing 12 to 15 hours at work At VTech, workers stand 12 to 15 hours a day,
racing to meet excessive production goals as they make phones for AT&T, Motorola,
Wal-Mart and VTech Electronic learning tablets for kids, including “V.Reader” and
“Storio” for Europe.

  • At VTech, 30,000 workers toil 12 to 15 hours a day, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 or 10:30 p.m. All overtime is mandatory, exceeding China’s legal overtime limit by 237 to 273 percent!
  • Workers are forced to stand all day. It is exhausting and their feet swell up.
  • Assembly line workers must race to complete one operation every 2.25 to 2.8 seconds—17,600 operations a day and 105,600 operations a week. The work is furious, exhausting and mind-numbing.
  • Acting as factory police, security guards often beat the workers.
  • Workers are so exhausted they cut their lunch break short in order to race back to sleep under their work benches.
  • The $1.09 an hour wage is below subsistence levels, trapping the workers in primitive dorms they describe as “pigsties,” where they sleep on plywood bunk beds without mattresses and use plastic buckets to wash themselves.
  • Cafeteria food is “awful” and often includes potatoes that are rotten.
  • Workers failing to meet their mandatory production goals are forced to keep working without pay.
  • VTech is prison-like, issuing “Employee Criminal Records,” and handing out demerits and stiff fines for perceived infractions of company rules.
  • VTech management appears to be cheating its workers of between $7.4 and $12.3 million in social security health and pension benefits each year.
  • Conditions are so harsh and cruel at VTech that some 80 percent of the workers flee each year! By illegally withholding a month’s back wages, which are then not paid to workers who leave, VTech may be cheating the workers of another $3.4 to $6.8 million per year!
  • “Bathroom Democracy” is breaking out at VTech, where the bathroom walls are the only place workers can speak without fear. It’s hard to imagine how desperate and angry the workers are. One worker wrote: “Don’t be too cocky as managers. One day you will die at the factory gate.” (No managers have been assaulted at VTech. But the workers are filled with anger and resentment at how they are treated.)
  • “VTech is a nasty and cruel sweatshop, which has been exploiting workers for years,” said Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights. “It is sad that powerful corporations like AT&T, Motorola and Wal-Mart have not lifted a finger to demand that even China’s weak labor laws be respected. This is one of the reasons that the U.S. had a $295.5 billion trade deficit with China in 2011, which cost 2.8 million Americans their jobs. If nothing changes, we will be locked into the Race to the Bottom, as workers compete based on who will accept the lowest wages, the least benefits and most miserable working conditions.”
  • VTech has licensing agreements with AT&T and Motorola and is a major original equipment maker for Sony and Philips. VTech phones and infants’ and children’s electronic learning products are sold at Wal-Mart, Target and other retailers.
  • VTech is also the exclusive supplier of all corded and cordless phones for Deutsche Telecom in Germany and supplies all fixed line telephones to Telstra in Australia.
  • In fiscal year 2012, VTech revenues reached $1.785 billion.
  • The U.S., Canadian, European, Australian and Japanese corporations sourcing production to VTech must take immediate steps to end the illegal and cruel sweatshop abuse at their supplier, VTech, and demand that the core International Labour Organization internationally recognized worker rights standards are enforced to protect China’s workers.

[LINK to report: http://www.globallabourrights.org/reports?id=0649

Link to Photos:http://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcnet/sets/72157630199272752/

About VTech

VTech is the world’s largest manufacturer of cordless phones and accounts for over 50% of cord and cordless phone market share in the U.S. VTech has licensing agreements with AT&T and Motorola. The company is a major original equipment manufacturer for Sony and Philips. VTech is an exclusive supplier to Deutsche Telekom for all its corded and cordless telephones and a direct supplier for Telstra in Australia. The company also produces best-selling children electronic learning products.

About Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights (the Institute) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) human rights organization dedicated to the promotion and defense of internationally recognized worker rights in the global economy. Founded in 1981 as the National Labor Committee, the Institute's research, in-depth reports, high profile public campaigns and widespread media coverage have been instrumental in creating the anti-sweatshop movement in the United States and internationally. The Institute is headquartered in Pittsburgh with regional offices in Dhaka and San Salvador and research/advocacy partnerships in China, Jordan, Central America and South Asia.




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