So I’ve been looking at choosing my next smartphone upgrade with a nod to its ethical implications. It’s not really surprised me that it’s not that easy to find out much on this. Customer services departments tend to clam up when you ask awkward questions, and I don’t have the clout of a proper media outlet to make press offices take note.
HTC have come the closest in terms of answering my questions so far though, and were good enough to give me the requested copy of their Code of Ethics for suppliers (PDF). It’s not a bad policy *, mentioning the right to union membership, and many of the key terms you’d expect.
After a stunt last year by workers who make HTC phone touchscreens, HTC Chairperson Cher Wang engaged sympathetically but told her disrupted press conference that the issue wasn’t one she knew about, other than that it related not to HTC staff, but to a supplier (Young Fast Optoelectronics), and that therefore HTC unfortunately couldn’t do anything about it.
However, a lot of the issues in the HTC supplier code neatly map against a Taiwanese government inspector’s report from 2010. Chairperson Wang is a busy woman, so I’ve made her a handy cut out and keep guide:
|HTC suppliers’ ethics code stipulations:||Council of Labor Affairs inspector’s report:|
|“Compensation, leave (days off) and overtime: Suppliers shall comply with laws and provide a reasonable
compensation and leave policy on the basis of job content and responsibility for each position. For overtime as per business needs, Suppliers shall follow the working hours and overtime payments regulated in the relevant local Labor Standards Laws.”
|“The company calculates the overtime payment in the basis of “base salary” without the bonuses and allowance listed in the payslips, which violates Article 24 of the Labor Standard Law.” … “Some of the workers have their overtime working for more than 46 hours in a month other than the regular working hours, which violates Item 2, Article 32.” … “Some of the workers do not have a resting day every 7 days as the regular day off, which violates Article 36.”|
|“Discrimination-free workplace: Suppliers shall provide an equal employment opportunity workplace with regard to non-job-related traits, such as gender…”||“No child care facilities nor suitable child care measures was provided, which violates Item 1, Article 23 of the Gender Equality in Employment Act.”|
|“Suppliers shall commit to provide the following working environment and conditions: … An open environment for employees to express personal opinions.”||“…does not hold the Labor-Management Conference regularly, which violates Article 18 of the Convocation Rules of the Labor-Management Conference”|
|“No child labor: Suppliers shall comply with the relevant local Labor Standards Laws and shall not hire any workers under the age of 15.”||“…the company violates Article 47 of the Labor Standard Law on hiring child labor to work for more than 8 hours (in a day)”|
|“Compliance with laws: All HTC’s Suppliers shall comply with the national laws and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.”||So that’s 6 national law violations counted above…|
* Unfortunately the HTC Code is rather let down by the fact it would seem to have no teeth whatsoever to ensure it’s effectiveness. Or rather, it has one little, and rather wobbly tooth:
(F) Upon HTC’s request, Suppliers agree to provide HTC with documents or proof with respect to Supplier’s implementation and compliance with this ethics code.
So if there are serious doubts as to YFO’s compliance with HTC’s supplier code (and I’d view a government report citing infractions of 5 of the code’s 8 sections to count as a serious doubt), are HTC able to show us a copy of the documents YFO provided on implementation and compliance?
I feel another email to customer services coming on…