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High Tech, Low Pay

Most electronics manufacturing takes place within the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone in southeastern China's Guangdong Province.

The Struggle of Electronics Workers in China's Pearl River Delta

“If there is even one corner of the world where the right to freely organize and collectively bargain is not guaranteed, then capital, like a serial criminal, will search out that place. Justice can only be won when corporations are held legally accountable to respect the checks and balances of workers’ rights.”
- Anonymous Chinese labor rights activist and scholar

China’s electronics industry exports approximately US $232 billion worth of electronics a year, supplying brand-name companies such as Apple, Dell, and Sony. Many of the 7.7 million people manufacturing these hi-tech products receive low pay and are unable to achieve an adequate standard of living. They work in dangerous conditions, for long hours and with restrictions on personal freedoms.


Chinese factories supplying large electronics companies rarely pay living wages to their employees. Factory workers frequently work long hours without rest and fear losing their jobs if they refuse overtime. Workers often live in corporate dormitory housing with very little privacy, and with restrictions on their freedom of movement. Like adult workers, teenaged “student interns” often work night shifts and perform hazardous tasks without adequate protection. Learn more about the human rights impacts of the Chinese electronics industry.

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© 2010 The National Labor Committee
16 and 17-year-old "work-study interns" work up to 15 hours per day, 6 to 7 days per week.


Chinese workers have staged strikes and challenged factory bosses to raise wages and improve working conditions. Labor activists in China support factory workers’ efforts by training them on their rights and engaging with corporations and consumers to help enforce these rights. Find out more about using human rights training, public interest litigation, and investigative reporting to demand justice and enhance corporate accountability.

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From a small, grassroots women’s organization to a labor NGO founded by a Tiananmen Square dissident, meet the organizations and individuals fighting to empower and protect factory workers. Learn about the methods and strategies they have used to defend the human rights of China’s electronics workers.

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