Wal-Mart's Chinese Suppliers Accused Of Labor Violations

November 30, 2009 | Print | Email Email | Comments | Category: Labor

According to reports in the Daily Economic News, the Chinese non-profit organization China Labor Watch is releasing a report on Wal-Mart's Chinese suppliers, disclosing illegal behavior by these suppliers.

It is learned that, from April to June 2009, CLW investigated two suppliers for Wal-Mart in China, Shenzhen Huasheng Packaging Company and Gantai Shoe Factory, to observe their labor conditions.

CLW's report shows that workers at these companies earned most of their income by working extra hours. If they don't work overtime, they will only get the local minimum salary. In Shenzhen Huasheng, some workers are paid just CNY2.5 per hour, and, in the high season, they are asked to work upwards of 77 hours each week. The report states that to save costs the Chinese suppliers do not issue any protective equipment to workers.

According to Li Qiang, the executive director of CLW, as the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart is obligated to, and capable of, urging its suppliers to meet its moral standard. However he added that, through CLW's observations over time, they found there is no way for the Chinese workers to sue Wal-Mart over these harsh labor conditions.

The report states that, due to public pressure, Wal-Mart has set some moral standards for its suppliers, and worked to stop labor violations by inspecting its the suppliers. However, there is a lot of obfustication and prevarication during Wal-Mart's inspections. According to CLW, workers are often asked to lie when Wal-Mart comes to check the suppliers, and those who refuse to do so will be fired.

Li said that there are also problems with Wal-Mart's audits. If a factory does not pass Wal-Mart's audit twice, then it is likely that it will choose to bribe a third party auditor to avoid losing Wal-Mart's business.

This is not the first time that CLW has targeted Wal-Mart's Chinese suppliers and Wal-Mart says it has been working to improve its suppliers' labor practices.

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