Union sets sights on PC assembly lines

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Union sets sights on PC assembly lines

HP packers' conditions "were absolutely degradable".

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union has set its sights on computer assembly sites across the country, after its investigation of poor working conditions at Sydney-based HP packing factory, Foxteq.

Foxteq – owned by the same company as China's notorious Foxconn factory – this week offered permanent contracts to factory staff in Rydalmere, western Sydney, after being “100 percent casual”.

The union contacted the Sydney Morning Herald last November, when it claimed the workers, who packed HP PCs for the Department of Defence, NSW Fire Brigades and banks, received nightly text messages about the next day’s work schedule.

This, the paper claimed, led to high levels of anxiety among the workers. 

Further, a safety inspection by the AMWU revealed some "serious concerns including dangerous irregular power cabling", the union said in a statement

AMWU state secretary Tim Ayres told iTnews' sister publication CRN that the union was very pleased that staff had been given permanent contracts but warned the incident had prompted it to think about the rest of the computer assembly industry in the country.

"This practice is so unusual, I've never seen anything like it anywhere in Australia where 100 percent of staff were casual and workers conditions were absolutely degradable.

"We’ll be out there talking to the industry and I just hope that this sends a message to the rest of the industry,” he said.

Ayres said the union alerted HP senior management and felt the vendor had acted within its corporate requirements. CRN has contacted HP for further comment.

“The union and HP have been very effective in lifting standards and the fact that we’re able to work so quickly [together],” he said.

China's Foxconn factory made global headlines last year for the high number of employee suicides. 

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