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back to article Ex-inmate at Chinese prison: We made airline headsets

Major airlines including British Airways and electronics manufacturers have been accused of sourcing products from a Chinese prison where inmates are tasered if they don’t hit production targets. BA and some of the other companies denied this while others said they hadn't knowingly bought them and are investigating their supply …

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Happy

"Dongguan is pretty typical of Chinese prisons, which run along a self-funding model"

This could be a good opportunity for outsourcing to China; even Daily Mail readers would approve.

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Trollface

You don't want to get the outsourcing toxin on it. Somehow the outsourcers will find a way to make even slave labour unprofitable.

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Windows

Isn't the Daily Mail outsourecd to China yet?

Bloody well reads like it is...

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Mushroom

And the problem with this is?

If they are in prison, nothing wrong with making them work to pay for it. And in zapping them.

At least they used Tasers too. American and British troops are known to apply 240 volts to a prisoner's gonads....

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The Vogon

"At least they used Tasers too. American and British troops are known to apply 240 volts to a prisoner's gonads...."

An obvious falsehood. American soldiers have access only to 110v or 220v.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Vogon

Not when in Iraq.http://www.voltageplugregion.com/iraq-technical-information-for-travelers.html

'240 volts' is actually 230-240.

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Anonymous Coward

Prison labour is not a bad thing (they have to DO something right?) but bad work conditions & torture are...

It seems to me that the government needs to intervene, it would be VERY good PR for the PRC to condem such conditions and put measures in place to avoid it happening.

Heads rolling would not be a shock...

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Anonymous Coward

"Heads rolling would not be a shock..."

Is that not part of the problem.

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Not to come over all ultra-capitalist or anything but... prison labour warps the market.

It's happening in the US and that it happens in China isn't surprising. But what you have is a pool of labour that is ultra-cheap. In the US the prison is paid a certain amount for a block of prisoner time and the prisoner gets a token amount out of it, the total being well below minimum wage. This undermines labour markets outside the prison system and delivers a product that non-prison labour can't compete wirth in terms of price.

A quick-fix would be to make sure that in cases of loaning prisoner-time to outside companies the prison (not the prisoner) is paid minimum wage for the labour where minimum wage exists, or a competitive wage if not. Where the prison is producing and selling product itself it ought to be made to account for labour costs similarly.

This would probably kill all incentive for folks to use prison labour, but in the end that's probably not a bad thing. Perhaps prison labour would be best used on public works, where spending less taxpayer money is a *good* thing, rather than private endeavour where market distortion can occur.

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Prison labour is a problem because the prison can undercut other suppliers by paying low or no wages and not bothering to provide decent (or safe?) working conditions.

So it tends to lead to fewer jobs and poorer pay and conditions in the area round the prison.

And that's without adding in the extended hours and forced intensive work described here.

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Oh yes it is

Prison Labour is a bad thing, it creates a conflict of interest, are you rehabilitating prisoners or running a business? Same goes for private prisons in general, as soon as prisoners become part of a profit formula, abuse becomes inevitable.

Like in the story, or that other one from the states where they were bribing a judge to convict juveniles.

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Anonymous Coward

"Is that not part of the problem."

I thought heads rocked in response to a good tasering......

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Title

But no commute time. That's has to count for something

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"Perhaps prison labour would be best used on public works, where spending less taxpayer money is a *good* thing, rather than private endeavour where market distortion can occur"

Not sure it's purely "public works", but any infrastructure project could benefit, because these invariably struggle to be affordable under conventional accounting, as the up front costs are too high, and the marginal value too low compared to interest rates. That has alwasy been the case with infrastructure: So most UK railways were built speculatively with private finance, and most of the companies went bust. The Channel Tunnel builders went bust. The High Speed 1 link between London and the Channel Tunnel has left a vast debt that the taxpayer is guaranteeing (as will HS2). Concrete airport runways would probably never have been commercially built, but for WW2 providing them free. Toll roads often struggle to make commercial returns (eg M6 toll). National broadband roll out is painfully slow due to high costs of (mainly) digging long trenches. Road schemes are on hold all over the country because of lack of money (instead being spent locking people up).

If instead of paying £35k per year per convict to keep them locked up, we offered them the choice of working on selected infrastructure projects for £20k a year, then they've got a job (and probably a job that otherwise wouldn't exist, or would cost a lot more), they're picking up a skill, paying tax, and nationally we get the benefit of the infrastructure, as well as saving £15 k per head. Not all of them would want to do that, and some would be unreliable (so straight back to chokey), but that has to be better for everybody, instead of locking the vermin up for 22 hours a day?

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Joke

They don't need to worry about worker retention?

// captive workforce, amirite?

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If instead of paying £35k per year per convict to keep them locked up, we offered them the choice of working on selected infrastructure projects for £20k a year, then they've got a job (and probably a job that otherwise wouldn't exist, or would cost a lot more), they're picking up a skill, paying tax, and nationally we get the benefit of the infrastructure, as well as saving £15 k per head.

Would we actually save 15k per head? Have you taken into account each lag on £20k/year is taking the £35k/year job of someone who hasn't broken the law.

The only jobs you can reliably in mass sell prison labour for are manual labour jobs, building and so forth. People who currently work in those sectors probably do so because they have been unable to get jobs working with their minds¹, and so there are no alternative jobs for them - the prisons have taken them all.

This could lead these former hard working, tax paying, law abiding citizens in to poverty. What comes after poverty? Crime. Ah well, at least we're keeping the prison population up, otherwise we wouldn't be able to build all them lovely infrastructure projects on the cheap for the rich white man.

¹ Massive generalisation.

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@Tom 38

"Would we actually save 15k per head? Have you taken into account each lag on £20k/year is taking the £35k/year job of someone who hasn't broken the law."

Err, most construction labourers aren't on anything like £35k a year, but even at the circa £15k-20k that we are talking about, infrastructure projects happen slowly or not at all because the cash cost is too high. So the idea of using crims for a national FTTP renewal of broadband wouldn't put anybody out of work because it is incremental, not substitutive, and much of the cost of the labour is already being incurred. Well, we might need fewer prison officers, but they aren't building infrastruture that we will benefit from for generations. And you wouldn't use 100% criminal labour - you need people who already have the building skills, you need experienced team leaders, who would probably be the existing non-prison workforce.

"The only jobs you can reliably in mass sell prison labour for are manual labour jobs, building and so forth."

Well, there's actually a fair few white collar crims who could do the accounting (with oversight!), but the point is that there's broadly speaking a good match between the manual/blue collar skills needed for infrastructure and the background of the prison population.

"otherwise we wouldn't be able to build all them lovely infrastructure projects on the cheap for the rich white man"

You miss the point that infrastructure doesn't readily get built or rebuilt, because the benefits accrue across the wider economy and over a long time, so they aren't commercial projects (or if they start off commercial, somebody usually goes bust). We could and should have rebuilt the West Coast Mainline for 160mph running in the 1990s, and obviated the need for HS2. But the goals were set lower (140mph) to keep the costs down , and the project was reigned in again to 125mph. So after £14bn of spend we still didn't have a 21st century asset. If we'd used subsidised labour (prisoners on licence, earning a proper salary, living at home or in site hostels) then we could have reduced the overall cost, and had 160mph.

I would envisage that the state would hire contractors to manage programmes, and would retain ownership of infrastructure assets. Private companies would actually deliver these programmes, but wouldn't be taking a cut of the crim's wages. Not sure why you're trying to make a wealth/class/race point that's nowhere near what I was suggesting.

Your suggestion that this idea would lead to more poverty is rubbish. Many crims certainly have come from economic deprivation, but what I'm suggesting builds society's wealth, instead of taking 100,000 people and forcing them to do nothing each year, whilst paying £3bn for the privilege.

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Go

Canal restoration

I seem to recall that some of the Canal Restoration projects in the UK have used inmates from HMPs.

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Re: Oh yes it is

"are you rehabilitating prisoners or running a business?"

Chinese prisons were never about rehabilitation. The word they use is "re-education".

And it is made clear in the article that the prison is a for-profit venture.

The good news is we here in America are moving toward that same model as I type. Why worry about prison overcrowding when every extra body is a pair of hands (willing or not)?

I confidently predict a return to the Treadmill and Workhouse model of social reform in the future.

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Holmes

@ Tom 38

Tom 38 wrote :- "Would we actually save 15k per head? Have you taken into account each lag on £20k/year is taking the £35k/year job of someone who hasn't broken the law."

There are plenty of tasks around that need doing that are never going to get done on "normal" business case principles. So doing those tasks will not be putting anyone out of a job.

How about constructing a flyover junction to replace the level railway junction just west of Woking Station? How about restoring some canals? Digging tunnels to put national Grid wires underground in National Parks?

All spade work, not rocket science

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So why is it a bad thing to work for your living?

"are you rehabilitating prisoners". Well, yes.

If you've ended up in prison then chances are society has chosen to put you there because you are not a nice and useful person to have around. Part of your rehabilitation is learning to work instead of steal. Work and meeting targets can give a sense of accomplishment that too many prisoners lack.

The worst part of most western modern prisons is that they just store the people for n years. They are called "correctional facilities" or other polite names, but they seldom do actually correct. Instead people become dependent on the prison providing a roof, bed + 3 square meals and they emerge into a world where you have to actually earn money (legally) to pay the rent, buy food etc. No wonder so few can cope and some actually find prison more livable than the outside world.

Here in NZ, the Greens were pushing for prisoners to be fed organic food. I'm all for that. Let them grow their own. Chomping into food you have made yourself gives a sense of accomplishment too.

As for taking the word of a prisoner.... Maybe. But 70 hours per week is not much to complain about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh yes it is

This is why the only solution for prison labour is to make it pointless, not profitable. group A Digs the hole, Group B fills it in, and repeat. The only exception would be whilst at war when wasting labour would not be so good..

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Unhappy

Christ

This isn't prison, this is slavery. When you stop and think "even people at Foxconn have better working conditions", something is massively fucked up with the world.

I'm now actually looking at my Lumia 820 now and wondering who the hell made it.

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Terminator

Re: Christ

And you can't even follow the "Buy British" or "Buy American" mantra's, since even if final assembly is onshore, so many of the components are manufactured elsewhere.

We're all doomed.

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Meh

Re: Christ

We're all doomed.

No we're not. Some other poor buggers might be, but not us.....

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Meh

Re: Christ

"This isn't prison, this is slavery"

Actually, the article is clear, its a self funding prison, instead of the Western model where prisons fail to reform people, and merely act as temporary holding pens for serial offenders, whilst consuming (UK, 2012) £3 billion a year, with each convict costing £35k a year, and a productive output of a few bags of littler picked up, and a handful of postal sacks made.

Personally I couldn't give a hoot (a) that China uses corporal punishments, or that (b) they make them work (although the poor quality of airline headsets is finally explained).

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Re: Christ

Whereas everyone else is looking at your Lumia 820 and wondering why you bought it...

Sadly this doesn't surprise me - over my lifetime we've gone backwards badly. It used to be that people cared about what they made (Morris 1000 line workers shimming worn out machines with fag papers so they'd work) now its just people who know the price of everything & the value of bugger all (as my grandfather might say). I'm not old either.. The number of times, even before 2008 I tried to get depts. to hold stock to help customers get quick fixes & was refused.. then blamed when the same customers whinged. Do that too often and people stop trying to do a decent job.. 10 years later and you're good and proper stuck. We shouldn't be surprised we've ended up benefitting from slave labour if the only thing British business cares about is price.

Irony is that there's a good chance that the country whining about slave labour in china is the same place that sold em the tasers in the first place. Lay back and think of England.

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Re: Christ

What sentences were handed out to these people in the prisons? 20 years hard labour? If so, what do they expect "hard labour" to be?

Are they murderers, rapists and government spin doctors? If so then I have no sympathy. Hard labour is hard labour be it breaking rocks into small chunks or tarring roads. If they are run of the mill "normal" sentences then it is wrong to force the work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Christ

Right. The guy in the article was in for manslaughter, for %#%^$'s sake. What about "don't do the crime if you can't do the time"?

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Nokia, we barely knew thee..

http://gizmodo.com/this-is-sad-588256698

I'm sorry.. I couldn't resist it...

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Anonymous Coward

tasers

we could do with some tasers round here to ensure projects are delivered on time!

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Happy

Tasers when not up to standards...

...maybe we should introduce such a scheme for MPs

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Re: Tasers when not up to standards...

Use tasers on members of Congress and state legislatures in the US... Trouble is, most of them over-the-hill RepubliCLOWNS couldn't take being tasered even one time without keeling over dead... We might be better off though if we could replace all of them...

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At least this explains something.

Why airline headsets always give you the impression that they were assembled by people who didn't give a shit about the product.

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Meh

Re: At least this explains something.

The worst I've seen were the thompson flight ones - the wires were so thin I'm surprised an electron could fit down it and one of the earphones came off. Still, it was free so I can't complain...

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Tasers

Are the tasers made in China with prison labour?... :p

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Joke

Re: Tasers

While that would be efficient, they're probably outsourced to a prison in North Korea where the 'production staff' are plugged into continuous audio propaganda for re-education purposes - the headsets being an airline model acquired from some prison in China....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tasers

To be fair, they're probably not using Taser-brand tasers. They're probably using the "3 BEEELION VOLT" Chinese made knock-offs.

The Taser-brand tasers are used to torture and sometimes kill people in many other countries.

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Anonymous Coward

8 yuan a month is about 80p, that is unreal.

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board and lodgings are free though.

our lags get about £40 a month.

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Happy

and that is why

prison labour should be something meaningless, non-production and mind numbingly boring - like breaking rocks.... or working in IT :-)

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WTF?

Doing a better job than England where prisoners get an Xbox, 3 square meals and sky tv etc!!

Kiwi Cancain, who said he'd been serving time for manslaughter, told the paper the 70+ hours per week he was forced to work left him with arthritis in his hand and shoulder.

"It’s a very cruel environment. You wake up every morning wondering if you are going to survive the day,”

Awww poor you, how about those who wake up every morning wondering how they are going to survive the day becasue you killed their loved one?!!! No sympathy from me mister killer.

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"Doing a better job than England where prisoners get an Xbox, 3 square meals and sky tv etc!!"

Which is what happens in private prisons, not state-run ones. The private companies save money by locking people in their cells for most of the day so that they can employ fewer guards -- the entertainment is provided to stop the prisoners rioting. This is what happens when all that matters is the bottom line, and naturally the Daily Mail readers get the wrong end of the stick and complain about it.

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@ Simon B

You really are a shining example of humanity, aren't you? Your clear and insightful comment has made me realise that the battle to have a global minimum level of human rights is mistaken, and that there are classes of things that look like human beings, but aren't, and so can be treated inhumanly. Thank you for wiping the scales from my eyes!

<end of sarcasm>

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Thumb Up

Sounds like the perfect place to send Brady and Philpot.

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Holmes

Title is optional..

We should send Crying Johnny of Orange, Myrtle the Turtle McConnell, Eric Cant'or and the other RepubliCLOWN leaders to one of those iron bar hotels...

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You mean Ian Brady, the man who has shown just how petty and spiteful the English justice system can be? If he asks to die, he is forced to live: he he wanted to live, people would want the death sentence like they did for Myra Hindley.

I actually feel sorry for Ian Brady - always have done.

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Facepalm

If you feel sorry for a child rapist and murderer then all I can say is you have a very skewed sense of empathy.

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Anonymous Coward

In-Ear headphones?....Can anyone ever hear anything using Airline headphones?

I gave up relying on the crappy in-flight entertainment systems long ago. For starters why don't they supply in-ear headphones? You can't hear a bloody thing out of the cheap ones they supply except --when you're trying to sleep and then you can hear everyone else's.... Taser them some more I say (and yes I'm joking)...

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Anonymous Coward

Jill Meagher's case highlights the prison system is too soft on Repeat Offenders....

"The man who murdered and raped ABC employee Jill Meagher has a long record of violent sex offences. The Supreme Court has heard that Adrian Bayley was out of jail on parole, and on bail at the time..."

...'While we release him on bail yet again'!!! ... Hello? ....While I accept prisoners have rights, cases like Jill's 'screams at you' that the prison system is too soft. How many other guys are released on bail, with a truck-load of past convictions?!!! Then while out on bail, go and murder or rape someone else?! ...

The prison system hasn't enough space, so they rotate prisoners in and out, playing headcount games. That's a huge error! If we can't afford to build more prisons, then I'm all for making serial-offenders work for minimum wage in factories, so more prisons can be built... This is harsh I know but change is needed.

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