Good bulbs, bad jobs: Workers and Conditions Behind Your New Compact Fluorescent

Publication Date: 

March 25, 2008


Policy Matters Ohio

A major supplier of compact fluorescent light bulbs to General Electric Co. requires many to work a 64-hour week that exhausts workers and violates Chinese labor law. Many workers at the plant in southern China, which is partly owned by GE, have no idea they are producing a product containing toxic mercury, and do not receive training on how to respond to its possible dangers. Those were among the findings of a study overseen by Policy Matters Ohio. The study, conducted in late 2007, found that Xiamen Topstar Lighting Co. Ltd., a joint venture in which GE has a stake, violates numerous provisions of Chinese labor law at its plant in Xiamen, Fujian Province. The report recommends that GE follow its own policies and ensure that its bulbs are made in a way that does not compromise the health and rights of workers who make them. It also says that GE, which has been closing down Ohio light-bulb manufacturing facilities, should maintain a U.S. workforce to make some of these energy-efficient products.