• Ethical Manufacturing

By Daniel Lee | 2nd December 2015

More and more so, ethics play an increasingly important role when it comes to offshore manufacturing. In recent years, overseas manufacturing have become a highly controversial topic, with a negative image that looms over the term itself. More often than not, the term’ overseas manufacturing’, especially when it concerns developing nations such as China, India, Vietnam and Myanmar brings about negative connotations such as ‘sweat shops’, ‘lack of safety’, ‘unsafe products’ and a general lack of ethical standards considered by many to be the norm but apparently not present in these establishments. ‘Horror’ stories such as worker suicides in Foxconn’s manufacturing facility and workers being abused in Nike’s factories sparked a global outrage and questioned the ethical standards of these conglomerates. Incidents like the above urge an increase of awareness amongst manufacturers, who are now taking action to make sure their products are manufactured in an ethical manner.

Some ethical concerns include:

1. Working environment

2. Working hours and compensation

3. Benefits and welfare

4. Product Safety

5. Environmental standards

6. Employment standards

1. Working Environment

A safe working environment would include taking the correct measures when handling hazardous equipment or materials such as wearing gloves, eye and face protection when soldering or welding, wearing helmets and boots in a metal factory and also gas masks as well as chemical resistant clothing when working in a chemical factory. Workers should also receive extensive training to handle these equipment and material to prevent any accidents or mishandling. Work places should be properly ventilated with comfortable, well lit stations. Work places should also be safe, hygienic with properly marked fire exits from all buildings. Living accommodation should be located separately from the main production floor and workers must be provided with clean drinking water, bathrooms, food storage facilities, be equipped with a fire alarm system and well ventilated.

2. Working hours and compensation

Manufacturers must comply with local labor legislation regarding employment, minimum wage, hours of work and pay, maternity leave, holidays, sick/leave days, pension, allowances, subsidies etc, and not attempt to circumvent these obligations to their workers by any means. In any case, wages must be reasonable and able to provide an arbitrary income on top of the basic needs of the workers. Workers must not be required to work excessive hours and be demanded to work overtime without appropriate compensation. Working hours should not exceed more than 60 hours per week (including overtime). There should be at least 1 day off in a 7-day work week. Deductions should be handled in an appropriate manner and reasonable, with offences written clearly and explicitly on the working agreement, not subjected to the supervisor’s arbitrary decision. Workers must express their agreement for each of those deductions and this agreement should not be a part of their employment contract by default. The use of fines as part of a disciplinary measure is not permitted.

3. Benefits and Welfare

Business must be conducted that respects each and every worker as an individual to be treated with dignity and equality. Employers must not discriminate against workers in any manner based on gender, disability, race, caste, age, religion or political affiliation. Any disciplinary measures must be fair, appropriate and clearly set out for all workers. The working environment should be free of harassment, physical and verbal abuse, threats or intimidation.

4. Product Safety

Proper adherence to safety standards such as CE and FDA is mandatory during manufacturing. The appropriate licenses should be acquired for the use of known hazardous materials during manufacturing. Safety and material labels should be displayed clearly and accurately on every products

5. Environmental standards

Manufacturers must be able to comply with the relevant local environmental regulations, with additional environmental standards being notified in writing as per needed. Manufacturers must demonstrate good corporate social responsibility and an awareness to environmental matters including waste reduction, safe disposal of hazardous materials, recycling, use of environmentally responsible materials etc. Such action should be quantifiable with measurable progress and goals.

6. Employment standards

No child or under aged labor must be used. All workers must have reached a minimum age of 15, or reach the minimum legal working age under national law in order to commence work. There must be no involuntary, forced or bonded labor present, with all workers operating on their own free will. Workers must be free to leave their employer upon reasonable notice (typically 30 days). Workers must also not be required to submit their identity cards and/or a deposit as a condition for work.

Here at Sourcing Overseas, all of the vendors we work with must go through a formal qualification process that assesses their ethical responsibility. We are committed to building great quality products that in no way are detrimental to the environment nor the people building them, that clients can be proud of and stand behind. Contact us now to learn more about our services and how we can help you develop your next blockbuster product.

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