"Worker voice" has become a new CSR buzz word signalling recognition that social audits do not adequately allow companies to engage with workers or understand issues that only workers can report. New "worker voice providers" offer applications to help companies engage with workers. But what is it for workers to have a voice?
The Greater London Authority (GLA), a strategic regional authority in the United Kingdom, affiliated to Electronics Watch at the end of 2018. The GLA is responsible for delivering transport, policing, economic development, fire and emergency planning services, and consists of three functional bodies — Transport for London (a founding member of Electronics Watch), the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, and the London Fire Commissioner. Another large consortium, "Sustainable Public Procurement," a national collaboration between the Swedish County Councils and Regions, has also affiliated.
Electronics Watch and our monitoring partner, the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN), have for over two years been documenting excessive recruitment-related fees and expenses that migrant workers from Myanmar pay to get a job at two sites of Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand). While working conditions have improved in some respects following buyer intervention, industry attempts to detect, remedy and prevent excessive recruitment fees and related forced labour risk have not yet been effective.
Electronics Watch has released a regional risk assessment of the electronics industry in Indonesia which suggests that risks of breach of the rights to freedom of employment, freedom of association and collective bargaining, limits on working hours, and health and safety regulations are of particular concern.
During the last two years Electronics Watch has monitored migrant worker recruitment channels from Myanmar to Thailand, focusing on one of the largest electronics employers of migrant workers in Thailand, to help detect and eliminate debt bondage and other forced labour risks. Electronics Watch has recently expanded focus to the recruitment of migrant workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Nepal to electronics factories in both Malaysia and Thailand.
Electronics Watch has launched its new and improved website, now also in French. We especially invite visitors to check out the new sections: "For Public Buyers" – a one-stop-shop for everything public buyers need to know about the Electronics Watch model of "contracting for change", including the Public Buyer Toolkit, and "Workers' Issues" - workers' stories highlighting the larger themes and challenges that form the core of the Electronics Watch Strategic Plan 2018-2020.
90 participants from 18 countries, including 41 public buyers, came away from the third Electronics Watch Annual Conference with new connections and plans for future work together.
An ideal opportunity for stakeholders to get closer and understand more of others' perspectives. I really liked the way of organizing the conference: promoting communications among participants, not just focusing on presentations of speakers. (conference participant)
Employees who examine screens for blemishes under bright lights in large electronics suppliers' sites have reported to Electronics Watch that their eyesight declines within a short period of time. Their only recourse, some of them have told researchers, is to resign from their jobs. Electronics Watch has developed Guidelines to mitigate, prevent and remedy eye strain to ensure these workers and others who work under similar conditions do not need to resign in order to protect their health.
Electronics Watch has developed the Public Buyer Toolkit to support communication and promote contract compliance within its affiliates' supply chains. The Public Buyer Toolkit contains standardized and easy-to-use tools guiding affiliates and their contractors. A strong and harmonised communication process will help Electronics Watch monitor and ensure compliance with affiliates' contract conditions and code of labour standards.
The Economic Rights Institute and Electronics Watch have released The Link Between Employment Conditions and Suicide: A Study of the Electronics Sector in China. The report analyses original quantitative and qualitative data to show how certain employment conditions heighten the risk of employee suicide.