HP investigates Foxteq scandal

HP said it was a "recognised leader" in supply chain social and environmental responsibility

Technology giant Hewlett-Packard has said it is looking into reports about the conditions for workers at the Rydalmere, Sydney factory operated by its partners Foxteq and Weststaff.

Yesterday morning the Sydney Morning Herald reported that HP PCs destined for customers such as the Department of Defence and NSW Fire Brigades were being assembled by staff at the factory in less than ideal conditions.

The newspaper reported claims by what it said were former employees that, despite working at the facility for months, they had no job security, and were only notified the day before shifts by SMS if they had work. The Sydney Morning Herald alleged the work practices would be considered a breach of the federal award.

"As with all concerns that are raised about our suppliers, HP is investigating the allegations raised about working conditions at Foxteq’s Rydalmere site," HP said in a statement.

The company said it was a "recognised leader" in supply chain social and environmental responsibility, and had high standards in place with suppliers to ensure workers were treated "with dignity and respect" -- and worked in safe environments.

"We require that our suppliers comply with all relevant laws, HP’s Supplier Code of Conduct, including the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct (EICC), and have appropriate management systems in place," the company added. "More specifically, we ask that they address legal and code provisions relating to environmental, occupational health and safety, labour and human rights issues."

In Australia, HP is led by Paul Brandling, the vice president and managing director of its South Pacific region. The executive has held the position since 2002 -- leading HP acquisition Compaq before that time.

The report about HP comes as the global technology sector is grappling with problems in manufacturing plants. For example, Chinese manufacturer Foxconn has suffered a series of suicides in its factories, with reports alleging employee mistreatment. The company's clients include iconic computer giant Apple.

HP has so far been broadly absent from the reports, however -- and in fact, has recently won a number of awards for corporate responsibility. For example, this year it was ranked first in Corporate Responsibility Magazine's list of best corporate citizens.

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Renai LeMay

PC World
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