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Whoa. Airlines Reportedly Using Chinese Slave Labor to Make Headphones

June 26, 2013 at 5:23 PM | by | Comment (1)

We're not necessarily experts in PR, let alone in the specific dynamics of airline industry public affairs, so maybe one of you guys can unpack this for us: all things being equal, if you're a company and your name appears in a story about Chinese slave labor camps where "inmates are regularly beaten and held in solitary confinement for failing to meet production targets," is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Where to begin with this colossal clusterfark? China's notorious Dongguan Prison was built in 1988. Back then it was called Xinzhou Prison, and the Chinese used it to house foreign prisoners from Asia and Africa. Fast forward until today, and the prison has become known for mindblowing corruption, widespread beatings, systematic rape, and so on. It's considered bad even by Chinese standards.

The other thing you have to understand is that the Chinese often use their enormous prison complex as a source of slave labor. They force prisoners to produce everything from clothing, to electronics, to World of Warcraft gold, to... headsets purchased by major airlines like Qantas, British Airways, and Emirates. Allegedly.

The revelation comes from prisoners who used to work in the facility and were eventually released. A New Zealander named Danny Cancian spoke to the Australian Financial Review, which broke the story. The connection is through a company called Airphonics, which subcontracts to the Dongguan City Joystar Electronic Company, which reportedly makes use of the slave labor.

Inmates were reportedly "taken out and tasered" if they didn't meet their production quotas.

Some of the airlines have already issued denials. Our strong suspicion is that they're going to have to do better than that.

[Photo: Gregor Gruber / Flickr]

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Ringing In My Ears

I must say, you've got one of the best blogs I've seen in a long time. What I wouldn't give to be able to create a blog that's as interesting as this.

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