Former prisoners claim that they were forced to make headphones for airlines including Qantas, British Airways and Emirates while serving sentences at a prison in Guangdong, reports AFP:
Two inmates recently released from the jail, including New Zealander Danny Cancian, told the newspaper they made disposable economy-class earphones for all three airlines.
Cancian, who was serving a four-year jail sentence for manslaughter, said failure to meet production targets meant prisoners were “taken outside and tasered”.
“It’s a very cruel environment. You wake up every morning wondering if you are going to survive the day,” he said.
[…] The report cited a representative from the Dongguan City Joystar Electronic Company as saying his firm used prison labour for big orders and made 300,000 sets of headphones for Qantas early last year. They were allegedly made to fill an order for Airphonics, the Vietnamese company Qantas confirmed was its main supplier. [Source]
The allegations follow reports of abuses at Masanjia Women’s Labor Re-education Camp. Qantas, which also announced a total ban on all shark fin cargo this week, says it has suspended its sourcing arrangements pending an investigation. Other airlines denied the accusations, however. From the BBC:
British Airways said in a statement to the BBC that it was committed to ensuring the highest standards in its “procurement process” – and that only “credited factories” with “ethical codes of practice” were used to produce the headsets.
“Our supplier has made it abundantly clear that it has never used prisons in China to produce any BA headsets,” a spokesman said.
An Emirates spokesman said that the airline was satisfied there was “no evidence of any unethical practices in the headset manufacturing process”. [Source]