Hong Kong-based labor rights organization SACOM is calling on Walmart to investigate one of its Chinese suppliers following a series of industrial accidents in which workers lost limbs.
|Workers display injuries caused by industrial accidents at the Zhuhai plant of Elec-Tech, a supplier of household appliances to Walmart. [Photo: Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior]|
Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior interviewed seven workers who were seriously injured while working at the Elec-Tech factory in the coastal city of Zhuhai in southern China.
In a report published on 18 August the organization says that in the year from June 2009 to June 2010, 60 workers have had disability assessments following accidents at the Zhuhai plant.
22 year-old Ruan Libing lost his left forearm in an accident at the plant on July 10 last year while working the nightshift. The company paid him 90,000 yuan (US$ 13,256) following the accident, but he is currently suing them for additional compensation.
An Elec-Tech manager speaking by telephone from Zhuhai confirmed that the court case was in progress.
The manager said he could not give the exact number of industrial accidents because the figures are kept at departmental levels, but added that, last year, "As far as I know less than ten industrial accidents caused injuries to workers."
Elec-Tech supplies a wide range of home appliances to Walmart and other major supermarket chains. The company is quoted on the Shenzhen stock exchange (002005) and employs 12,000 people across China. It has 6,000 employees in Zhuhai.
The SACOM report claims the company imposes fines of between 300 and 800 yuan on workers who are injured in industrial accidents. Ruan Libing was fined after he lost his forearm.
According to SACOM "The fine implies that the worker is at fault for his or her own injury. Workers believe Elec-Tech uses the fines as a tactic to deter post-injury litigation." In the court case with Ruan Libing, SACOM say the company is using the fine it imposed on Ruan to deny responsibility for his injury.