Books from China
Finnwatch investigated working conditions of a Chinese printing house, Hung Hing Heshan, which is used also by Finnish publishers. During the investigation, workers were busy with European customers' christmas orders.
- Workers earn around one Euro in an hour. It is simply not enough to support a family, says Finnwatch's Executive Director Sonja Vartiala.
The investigated printing house is located in Guangdong province in China, and belongs to Hung Hing Printing Group which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and printers of children’s book and novelty paper products. It works with the world’s major publishers, such as Disney and Hallmark. Hung Hing Printing Group exports to the US and European markets and many publishers in Finland, such as Egmont, Bonnier, Karisto and Kustannus-Mäkelä, also have their products manufactured at Hung Hing Printing Group’s factories.
The study of Finnwatch revealed low salaries and long working days. Nearly all the workers interviewed by Finnwatch worked a total of 80 hours overtime every month. Workers worked overtime for excessive periods, and their overtime exceeded China's statutory maximum for overtime work. According to the workers, they must rely on overtime, as the basic salary paid by the factory is too small to cover the basic costs of life.
Finnwatch reminds that living wage is a human right. According to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, European companies must respect human rights also when operating outside Europe.
The investigation also discloses challenges faced by international certification and audit systems. Hardly any commonly used audit system can ensure that workers receive a living wage or actively promotes freedom of association or other collective bargaining agreements at factories.
– The responsiblity system of the industry, ICTI Care, does not actively promote freedom of association, does not demand living wage and allows higher working hours than the statutory working hours of the Chinese labour law, says Vartiala.
Even the SA8000 standard, one of the most ambitious factory auditing systems, has been unable to increase salaries at Hung Hing Heshan to the level of a living wage. The audits had approved the factory’s own estimate of a living wage as sufficient, though it is below the local minimum wage. Even the Chinese government and the ACFTU Trade Union which is managed by the Communist Party recommend a higher minimum wage.
The field study section of the report has been translated into English and can be read here.
The full report in Finnish can be read here.
The full report written in Finnish also includes a comparison of responsibility guidelines and practises of Finnish publishers and outlines labour law and labour related human rights risk in China.
Tämä teos, jonka tekijä on Finnwatch, on lisensoitu Creative Commons Nimeä-EiKaupallinen-EiMuutoksia 4.0 Kansainvälinen -lisenssillä.