Thailand: NGOs allege ongoing recruitment fees & migrant worker abuses at supplier to global electronics brands; Incl. co. responses

From 2016 to 2018, Electronics Watch and the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) documented excessive recruitment-related fees and expenses that migrant workers from Myanmar pay to get a job at two sites of Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand). Their report reveals that while working conditions have improved in some respects following buyer intervention, industry attempts to detect, remedy and prevent excessive recruitment fees and related forced labour risk have not yet been effective.

Cal-Comp is one of the leading employers of migrant workers in Thailand with an estimated migrant workforce of more than 13,000 workers, the vast majority from Myanmar. Cal-Comp’s parent company, New Kinpo Group, is a member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA). CalComp supplies printers, external hard disk drives and other computer peripherals to global electronics brands. Electronics Watch has shared findings and recommendations on unlawful migrant worker employment and recruitment practices at CalComp with Cal-Comp, NKG, buyers and RBA over two years to spur improvements and minimise forced labour risks.

Based on the most recent findings, Electronics Watch and MWRN are calling for Cal-Comp to urgently:

  • Fully reimburse all migrant workers who have paid illegal and excessive recruitment fees.
  • Prevent forced labour risks through zero-cost recruitment in accordance with the widely endorsed Employer Pays Principle. Cal-Comp should itself pay migrant workers’ total recruitment-related service fees and expenses in advance and ensure recruitment agents do not themselves charge workers fees.

In March 2019, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre wrote to New Kinpo Group and its subsidiary Cal-Comp Electronics, in addition to Hitachi, Huawei, HP, Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Panasonic, Ricoh, Seagate Technology, Sharp, Toshiba and Western Digital, inviting them to respond to the allegations made in the report. New Kinpo Group, Cal-Comp Electronics, Huawei, Panasonic and Western Digital did not respond.

Toshiba, Lexmark and Sharp responded that they did not have sourcing relationships with Cal-Comp in Thailand during the report's documentation period. Hitachi said while it did not source directly from Cal-Comp, it does purchase electronic devices from companies listed in the report and has recently translated its procurement guidelines into Thai. All responses are included below.

HP, Konica Minolta, and Seagate said they were investigating and working with Cal-Comp to improve the situation. Ricoh said it will work with its suppliers in Thailand to protect human rights in its supply chain and started RBA-based supplier audits in 2018. Their responses are also included below.

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All components of this story

Company non-response
25 March 2019

Cal-Comp Electronics did not respond

Author: Cal-Comp Electronics

Company non-response
25 March 2019

Huawei did not respond

Author: Huawei

Company non-response
25 March 2019

New Kinpo Group did not respond

Author: New Kinpo Group

Company non-response
25 March 2019

Panasonic did not respond

Author: Panasonic

Company non-response
25 March 2019

Western Digital did not respond

Author: Western Digital

Company response
20 March 2019

Konica Minolta's response

Author: Konica Minolta

... Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand)... is one of Konica Minolta's suppliers... Konica Minolta sent the following questions to Cal-Comp: Are the details of the Electronics Watch report true? In response to the details of the Electronics Watch report, what actions are you planning to take and what is the timeframe?...

After Cal-Comp conducted the investigation, the corrective actions are as: 1. Cal-Comp will terminate this local recruitment agent. 2. Cal-Comp limits the recruitment agency staff to enter our factory. 3. Only staffs approaved by Plant manager are approved to enter our factory.... [Full answers are included in the attached document]

... Konica Minolta plans to follow up on the information provided. This includes further inquiries to Cal-Comp, interviews with relevant parties as necessary, and onsite confirmation. If any concerns in the... report as confirmed to be true, Konica Minolta will ask Cal-Comp to correct the issue. Konica Minolta is also committed to cooperating with Cal-Comp as it corrects any issues that may exist...

Download the full document here

Company response
15 March 2019

Hitachi's response

Author: Hitachi

The Hitachi Group (Hitachi) appreciates the concerns raised in the report... by Electronics Watch... In the report, Hitachi is referred as one of the brand customers of Cal-Comp Electronics, Thailand. According to our investigation, although we have no direct transaction with them, we purchase electronic devices from companies listed in the report...

 Hitachi acknowledges that the human rights are threatened by the forced labor in Thailand and other South East Asia and has recently translated Hitachi Group CSR Procurement Guideline in Thai in an effort to further minimize the human rights risk: http://www.hitachi.co.jp/procurement/csr/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2018/09/1... Hitachi is committed to consider human rights as a priority in our business activity, and will continue calling our suppliers for more engagement and compliance of the Guideline to ensure that human rights abuse including forced labor does not happen in our supply chain.

Download the full document here

Company response
12 March 2019

Sharp's response

Author: Sharp

We examined the business relationship with Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand)... and it was confirmed that there is no business after May 2015.

The Sharp Group is actively working on CSR initiatives throughout the supply chain.

We have implemented monitoring and necessary measures to prevent forced labor and slave labor in the supply chain, and we will continue to strengthen them in the future. For additional information, please refer to below website: http://www.sharp-world.com/corporate/eco/supplier/csr/

 

Company response
8 March 2019

Lexmark's response

Author: Lexmark

Lexmark takes pride in its corporate social responsibility related to the environment, labor, employee health and safety, and ethics. As a member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), Lexmark has adopted the RBA Code of Conduct, which establishes standards to ensure that working conditions in the electronics industry supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that business operations are environmentally responsible and conducted ethically. Lexmark holds its suppliers to this same high standard, requiring that its suppliers adhere to the stringent standards and requirements of the RBA Code of Conduct. It is important to note that CalComp Thailand is not a Lexmark supplier.

Company response
8 March 2019

Ricoh's response

Author: Ricoh

Ricoh is committed to protecting human rights and promoting CSR Self-assessments for our suppliers, including suppliers in Thailand and China to prevent human rights risks in our supply chain. Ricoh will work with our suppliers in Thailand and strengthen our efforts to help prevent the human rights issues reported by electronics watch. We have started RBA-based supplier audits in 2018 and will continue our efforts to protect human rights in our supply chain. 

Download the full document here