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好灯泡,坏工作:荧光灯背后的工人和工作环境(转自网易新闻)  

2008-04-09 16:03:37|  分类: 我的大学 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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好灯泡,坏工作:荧光灯背后的工人和工作环境

通用电气高能效照明灯泡的中国供应商为工人提供的工作条件违反劳动法,引发了医疗保健方面的隐忧。

中国一家为通用电气公司供应紧凑型荧光灯泡的供应商要求工人每周工作64个小时,工人们疲惫不堪,供应商的这种做法违反了劳动法。 中国南方某工厂的许多工人根本不知道他们生产的一款产品中包含有毒的水银,也没有接受如何处理可能出现的危险事故的基本知识培训。

这是克利夫兰的一家非营利性研究所Policy Matters Ohio今日发布的一份研究报告中披露的事实。

紧凑型荧光灯泡的生产和销售在美国和全球范围迅速增长。美国国会在去年12月批准的能源法案规定,必须放弃传统的白炽灯泡,换用能效更高的产品。 至少从短期来说,那对于美国家庭而言就是指紧凑型荧光灯泡。然而,美国几乎不生产这种产品。因此,美国消费者越来越多地从海外购买这些产品。

疲惫不堪的顶星生产厂的工人们正在休息

Policy Matters的研究主任Zach Schiller说:"通用电气应该使用其Ecoimagination战略口号来生产'能效更高,放射性更低的产品',用不违反劳动法的方式来生产高能效照明灯泡。 公司应该用美国工人来生产其中的部分产品。"

Policy Matters Ohio是在去年下半年展开这项调查的。结果发现厦门顶星与通用电气合资组建的厦门顶星照明有限公司在福建厦门的生产厂违反了中国劳动法的多项规定。 具体包括:

要求工人工作的时间比劳动法规定的最长时间还要长,2007年的平均月工作时间达到203.4小时;

不提供工资记录,因此工人们无法知道他们是否获得了应得的报酬;

每周工作6天,每天工作超过8小时,且不支付加班工资,根据中国法律规定,每周工作日只有5天。

规定工人私自离岗将受到罚没一个月工资的处罚。

这些违法的行为同样违反了通用电气公司自己的企业政策,通用电气公司企业政策规定,公司必须遵守当地法律法规,要求供应商遵守有关法律法规关于最低工资、工作时间和加班工资的规定。 那些行为大部分也违反了电子行业通行的《电子行业行为法规》。

该生产厂在用工方面也存在歧视现象,因为它不聘用32岁以上的工人,而且只招收女工。这就违反了国际劳工组织的《Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work》中关于反歧视条款的规定。通用电气公司在它自己的中国生产厂中已经采纳了这项规定。该生产厂作出的另一项卑劣行径是:如果工人未经批准擅自离岗或者迟到,工厂将扣罚该工人的工资。比如,某工人上班迟到半小时,那么她一天的工资就被扣罚了。

紧凑型荧光灯泡中包含水银。众所周知,水银是一种有毒物质,汞蒸汽可能会对人体中枢神经系统造成严重伤害。 虽然紧凑型荧光灯泡中所含水银数量很少,但是美国环境保护局建议生产厂在开始清理破碎的灯泡前应当开窗并等候至少15分钟。

然而,顶星生产厂的工人们并没有在工作合同中看到关于工作危险的详细说明,也没有得到安全培训,通常不知道工厂安全性的基本情况。大多数工人表示,他们根本就不知道工厂在使用水银,也不知道如何保护自己。在获悉关于水银或汞的特性之后,工人们表示工厂中有许多塑料桶,桶上用红油漆写着"废弃物包含汞"的字样。 那些桶中装满了紧凑型荧光灯泡,通常都是敞开放置在工厂里,并没有进行密封。

老工人们的手指通常都破损不堪,因为他们在工作中经常被电子元件扎伤。工人们说,每当换班之后,他们都周身酸痛,双腿麻木。 一位老工人说:"唉,我在这干了一年多时间了,我浑身都麻木了,我已经成了工作的机器。" 其他工人也表达了类似的意见。

通用电气公司已经关闭了它的白炽灯泡生产厂。它在去年12月宣布关闭俄亥俄州的六家生产厂和巴西的一家生产厂。其中,俄亥俄州的六家生产厂一共聘用了425名工人。 它表示,美国的劳动力成本太高,它已经无法在美国继续生产高能效荧光灯泡。

工厂中放置的桶口打开的桶。上面写着"废弃物包含汞。"

然而,通过对厦门顶星生产厂的调查发现,通用电气公司之所以能够在中国生产那些高效能荧光灯泡,是因为合资公司没有遵守通用电气公司在其自己的人权报告和公司行为守则中所说的行为规范。报告建议通用电气公司遵守自己的政策,确保通过合法合理且不侵害生产工人健康和权益的方式来生产灯泡。

环境卫生监督公司的执行董事Stuart JGreenberg说:"我们可以而且应当提高产品能效,同时为工人们提供良好、安全的工作环境。"

美国最近批准的能源法案包括许多支持美国生产高能效照明灯泡的举措,其中包括每年划拨1千万美元的研究、开发与生产拨款、培训资金以及其他优惠政策。市场对紧凑型荧光灯泡的需求仍在快速增长,因此各厂商仍有很大的扩大生产空间。通用电气公司已经承诺生产高能效白炽灯泡,但是还没有透露它将在哪里生产。Schiller说:"利用现有生产设备,在合法条件下生产这些高能效新产品可以表明公司履行了它对经济和环保的承诺。"

履行那些承诺还意味着它必须注意正确丢弃或处理紧凑型荧光灯泡和灯泡中的水银,目前消费者们还不可能用廉价的替代产品来替换灯泡。应该要求通用电气公司和其他照明灯泡供应商参与他们所生产产品的回收再循环基础设施的研发。

Policy Matters Ohio是俄亥俄州克利夫兰的一家非营利性研究所。(翻译:三张)

原文:

Conditions violate labor law, raise health concerns at Chinese supplier of energy-efficient light bulbs to GE

A major supplier of compact fluorescent light bulbs to General Electric Co. requires many to work a 64-hour week that exhausts workers and violates Chinese labor law (see photo). Many workers at the plant in southern China, which is partly owned by GE, have no idea they are producing a product containing toxic mercury, and do not receive training on how to respond to its possible dangers.

Those were among the findings of a study released today by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit research institute based in Cleveland.

Production and sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are growing rapidly in the United States and world-wide. The energy bill approved by the U.S. Congress in December mandates the phase-out of current incandescent light bulbs and their replacement with more energy-efficient products. At least for the immediate future in U.S. households, that means CFLs. Yet very few of these products are made in the United States. Thus, U.S. consumers are increasingly going to have to buy products made offshore under conditions that may fall far short of international labor standards.

Tired Topstar worker takes a break

“GE should use its Ecoimagination – the slogan for its strategy to produce ‘more energy-efficient, less emissive products’ – to produce energy-efficient light bulbs in a way that does not abuse the workers who make them,” said Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters. “The company should maintain a U.S. workforce to make some of these products.”

Policy Matters Ohio commissioned the study, which was conducted late last year. It found that Xiamen Topstar Lighting Co. Ltd., a joint venture with Topstar in which GE has a stake, violates numerous provisions of China’s labor law at its plant in Xiamen, Fujian Province, including:

Requiring work hours that are longer than the permitted maximum average in 2007 of 203.4 hours a month;

Providing no pay stubs, so workers can’t tell if they are being correctly paid;

Not paying overtime for work in excess of 8 hours a day or on the sixth day of work each week, which under Chinese law is to be a day of rest;

Mandating that workers who quit without permission forfeit a month’s wages.

These violations of Chinese labor law also infringe GE’s own corporate policies, which call for the company to obey local laws and expect suppliers to “comply with laws and regulations governing minimum wages, hours of service and overtime wages for employees.” (GE 2007 Citizenship Report, p. 62) Most of them also contravene the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct, which many leading electronics companies have pledged to uphold.

The plant also discriminates in employment, since it won’t hire workers over age 32 and hires almost exclusively women workers. This clashes with the anti-discrimination clause in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which GE has adopted with respect to its own employees working in China. In another abusive practice, the plant confiscates wages if a worker does not have approval for missing work or is late to work. For example, if a worker is half an hour late, she will be fined one day’s wages.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, like other fluorescents, in order to function. Mercury is a well-known toxin, and mercury vapor can cause serious damage to the central nervous system. Though the amount of mercury in a CFL is small, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends opening a window and leaving the room for at least 15 minutes before beginning clean-up of a broken bulb (See http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#fluorescent).

Yet workers at the Topstar plant do not receive “a detailed account of work dangers” as stipulated in their contracts, receive little safety training and often do not know basic facts about factory safety. The majority of workers interviewed told researchers that they had no idea that the company was using mercury, or how to protect themselves. Told the meaning of the character for mercury, or gong, they said there were many plastic barrels on which “discarded objects containing gong” was written in red. The barrels were filled with CFLs and often were open or not properly sealed (see photo).

Experienced workers end up with swollen fingers from repeatedly pricking themselves with electronic components they are plugging in. Workers reported that when they finish their shifts, they ache all over and their legs have gone numb. One veteran worker said, “Ah, after more than a year [here], I am more or less numb all over and have become a machine!” Other workers interviewed made similar comments.

GE has been closing down production of incandescent light bulbs and parts, especially in Ohio, the long-time home of its lighting business and many of its factories. In October, it announced the closing of six plants employing 425 Ohio workers, as well as a plant in Brazil. It has argued that it cannot afford to produce the more energy-efficient CFLs in the United States.

Open barrels at the factory. The sticker says in Chinese: "Discarded objects containing mercury."

However, the investigation of the Xiamen Topstar plant in Xiamen suggests that among the reasons GE can “afford” to produce them in China is because its joint venture is not following the norms of behavior that GE describes in its own Citizenship Report and its company code of conduct, The Spirit and the Letter. The report recommends that GE follow its own policies, and ensure that its bulbs are made in a way that does not compromise the health and rights of the workers who make them.

“We can and should have the benefits of energy efficiency and good, safe jobs for workers at the same time," said Stuart J. Greenberg, executive director of Environmental Health Watch, a Cleveland-based information, assistance and advocacy organization on a range of environmental health issues.

The recently approved U.S. energy bill contains a number of measures that could support U.S. manufacture of energy-efficient light bulbs, including a $10 million annual appropriation for research, development and manufacturing; training funds and Buy American provisions that could benefit a U.S. producer. Demand for CFLs is booming, so there is plenty of room for expanded production. GE has promised to make a high-efficiency incandescent bulb, but hasn’t disclosed details on where it will be made. “Making this or other new energy-efficient products under lawful conditions at its existing plants would show that the economic and environmental promise of green energy can truly be met,” Schiller said.

Meeting that promise also means taking care that CFLs and the mercury in them are properly disposed of; currently, consumers do not have cheap, ready alternatives to properly recycle the bulbs. GE and other light-bulb suppliers should be required to participate in development of a recycling infrastructure for the products they sell.

Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit research institute based in Cleveland, Ohio.
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