2017 July 13

New Regional Risk Assessments on the Electronics Industry in China and the Philippines

Electronics Watch is happy to release two regional risk assessments, previously confidential to affiliates. The Regional Risk Assessment of the Electronics Industry in China (October 2016, carried out by Economic Rights Institute, Globalization Monitor, and Labour Education Services Network) and the Regional Risk Assessment of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industry in the Philippines (December 2016, by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights), are posted on the resources section of the Electronics Watch website. The former finds risks of forced labour, discrimination against women workers, underpayment of social security obligations, and abusive termination of employment. Both assessments point to health and safety hazards, violations of collective bargaining rights, and illegal working hours. A risk assessment tool reflecting the findings in the Risk Assessments is available to affiliates.

The three organisations contributing to the China risk assessment are among the most experienced labour rights groups and individuals to work on labour issues in mainland China. They have conducted extensive industry and factory research through offsite worker interviews and in-factory training projects for management and workers.

In the Philippines, CTUHR prepared a questionnaire, addressing all areas in the Electronics Watch Code of Labour Standards, and interviewed 34 workers in the major electronics industry regions.  The Philippines risk assessment also includes information from government, industry and academic papers, and NGO research.

Each risk assessment explains the legal requirements in all relevant labour rights and health and safety areas and steps that companies must take to mitigate risk of breach in these areas.  The risk assessments recognise that certain breaches must be addressed systemically over time.  For example, the China risk assessment suggests a a general strategy to address the issue of execssive overtime which does not deprive workers of badly needed income.  In the Philippines lack of worker awareness of the toxicity of chemicals they handle was one major finding. Electronics Watch believes factories should improve transparency in this area and ensure workers receive adequate training and protective equipment to ensure safety.  In addition, democratically elected health and safety committes are important to strengthen workers' voices and their ability to address health and safety issues together with management.