The Insecurity of Working for a Subcontractor in Central Europe

Migrant workers from Central and Eastern Europe described their experiences working at a Foxconn factory supplying also to HP located in the Czech Republic. They highlight the problems of precarious employment and income insecurity, their unpredictable working hours and late shift notifications, and lack of job security.

A worker from Romania told Electronics Watch about the unpredictability of shifts:

“The planning of shifts changes every day. There is a weekly plan of shifts ... It may change even twice a day. For example, I see that I ́ll have a day shift tomorrow. I prepare a sandwich and in the morning I see it ́s cancelled. Sometimes I go to sleep during the day as I ́m supposed to have a night shift and it ́s cancelled. You have to watch every hour. It was crazy in July. The plan of shifts for August is good, I know them two or three days in advance. I know for sure how things will be. “

Another Romanian migrant worker reported:

“When orders are coming in, they make us work during the weekends. During the week they could cancel a shift and then plan it again. Just this week there ́s a day shift on Monday, night shifts on Tuesday and Wednesday ...and for Saturday [which was supposed to be off] there is now a planned shift.”

Workers from Bulgaria worried about job security.  One worker told Electronics Watch:

“I would like to say that I and all Bulgarian workers fear dismissals. If they at least told us a month in advance. They tell us on Thursday that on Sunday you go to Bulgaria, that your contract is over. It doesn’t matter if you have a temporary contract or an open-ended one. They can dismiss you any time. They call you into the office and tell you that you must sign an agreement about the end of the contract. You can ‘t refuse. They’ll make you [sign it].”

Another worker from Bulgaria said:

“For a month I have been hearing about the reduction of the workforce coming in April. There will be a list issued with names of persons who will lose their jobs. I was told I was not going to be on the list but I want to see it, not just hear it. Some people are saying they’ll be going home or find a different job. (The subcontractor) might offer some people a different job in (another nearby electronics firm), but what if someone doesn’t want to work there? Can they refuse? I want to know one month in advance. This shouldn’t happen from one day to the other that they tell us if there ́s a job or not. I need to plan.”

You can read the compliance reports on Foxconn in Pardubice here.