HP clamps down on 'dodgy' Foxteq PC plant practices

Staff offered permanent contracts after union intervention

Workers at a PC packing plant in Sydney’s north-west have won permanent staff contracts after the company settled with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

The unsatisfactory conditions of a Foxteq-run Rydalmere plant, where employees packed computers manufactured by Hewlett-Packard (HP), came to light in November 2010 when the AMWU found migrant workers were notified to attend work the afternoon or evening before shifts via SMS, and were expected to be available seven days a week.

According to the union, workers were also threatened with unemployment if they took time off work, including when sick or injured.

AMWU NSW secretary, Tim Ayres, said the agreement has been a transition from medieval work practices to more modern conditions.

“This is a vulnerable workforce, mostly new migrants with few skills or work opportunities,” he said in a statement. “Foxteq is part of the same international technology group as Foxconn, a company that has already been exposed for the poor treatment of workers in China and India,” he said.

At the time the story broke, HP said it was investigating workers’ conditions at the factory.

“We require that our suppliers comply with all relevant laws, HP’s Supplier Code of Conduct, including the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct (EICC), and have appropriate management systems in place," the company said in a statement.

"More specifically, we ask that they address legal and code provisions relating to environmental, occupational health and safety, labour and human rights issues.”

AMWU organiser George Simon said at the time that the organisation had explored all avenues to ensure the substandard working conditions change and workers were offered secure jobs with fair entitlements.

“Some of these workers have been here as casual staff for many years,” he said in a statement. “They should be given permanent status. Foxteq need to start treating their workers as human beings, not robots.”

In addition, a safety inspection by the AMWU in November 2010 found that the factory had dangerous, irregular power cabling.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags Hewlett-Packard (HP)FoxteqAustralian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU)Tim Ayres

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