Qantas, Emirates, BA accused of using Chinese prison labor to make airplane headphones


Qantas pilot captain Richard de Crespigny poses infront of the Qantas Airbus A380 jet dubbed 'Nancy Bird Walton', in honour of Australia's first female commercial pilot, on the tarmac at the Changi International Airport in Singapore on April 21, 2012. A Qantas Airbus A380 jet that dramatically lost an engine in a mid-air blast off Singapore in November 2010 was formally handed back to the Australian flag carrier April 21 after extensive repairs.



Australian airline Qantas said it was launching an investigation into allegations that its in-flight headphones were made by abused Chinese inmates.

The Australian Financial Review made the charges after interviewing Chinese prisoners who said that they were beaten while making the headphones for Qantas, Emirates and British Airways.

They claim they were only paid $1.30 per month. The magazine's main source was Danny Cancian, a New Zealander released from Dongguan Prison last year, who claimed he saw the prisoners at work.

Dongguan City Joystar Electronic Co. used the prison for large labor orders and is hired by outside suppliers who may, in turn, be connected to the airlines. 

Qantas has said that it was concerned about the allegations and that its supplier had been suspended temporarily during the investigation.

British Airways released a statement saying: "Our supplier has made it abundantly clear that it has never used prisons in China to produce any BA headsets."

Emirates followed suit, saying that there were no unethical practices in its supply chain.

The article said that prisoners who had not met quotas were abused and even tasered by guards.

The prisoners also said they had made parts for other international companies as well, including Emerson and Electrolux.

All of the companies have so far denied the charges, but it is likely the allegations will become clearer in the coming weeks.