The Electronics Watch Contractor Guidance

The Electronics Watch Contractor Guidance is a detailed and comprehensive due diligence guide for ICT hardware contractors that sell products to public sector buyers.  It is designed to help these contractors comply with the Electronics Watch Contract Conditions and similar contract performance standards that aim to improve working conditions in factories that make the goods public sector organisations buy.  The Guidance defines 11 concrete outcomes to enhance supply chain transparency, industry cooperation with independent monitors, and factory compliance with labour rights and safety standards. Contractors must achieve outcomes within their direct control, and demonstrate effective due diligence towards achieving other outcomes.

The Guidance has been developed through consultations with a wide range of stakeholders and is based on the practical experience of Electronics Watch affiliates. It will be reviewed and updated annually based on comments from affiliates, contractors, suppliers, factories, workers and workers' organisations, experts on human rights and procurement, and others. We welcome your ideas.

What experts say about the Contractor Guidance:

Dare I say the most definitive and authoritative collection of operational guidelines for public sector buyers working with manufacturers and brands in the global electronics industry. By taking into account the views of all parties, Electronics Watch has produced something of real value in the area of protecting the labour rights of workers and a working, living document that will act as guidance for both ourselves and I am sure many others in their discussions with the IT industry.

--Andy Davies, Director, London Universities Purchasing Consortium, UK

As regards its procurement, the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, wishes to contribute to the respect of better working conditions in the supply chain. It is for this reason that the canton has become an affiliate of Electronics Watch.  The canton is working with PAIR (Partenariat des achats informatiques romands), the consortium of public buyers for IT material in the French speaking part of Switzerland, on IT tenders. In order to align tender criteria with Electronic Watch clauses we find the Contractor guidance extremely useful. It helps us to identify the best possible way to respect both, Electronics Watch clauses, and our national procurement law. Furthermore, the contractor Guidance is a welcome reference in the dialogue with our suppliers.

--Michel Rubattel, Secrétaire général du Département des infrastructures et des ressources humaines (DIRH), Etat de Vaud, Switzerland

Electronics Watch has developed state-of-the-art guidance for contractors to strengthen respect for labour rights and improve working conditions in factories that produce electronic products for public purchasers. The Electronics Watch guidance surpasses all other procurement standards by virtue of transparency, depth, leverage, and legal sophistication.  The EW guidance recognizes that:

  • Supply-chain transparency—of factory locations, chemical risks, compliance reports, and remedies—is a prerequisite for accountability and progress;
  • Depth of factory cooperation extends to subcontractors and suppliers of components and materials—the latter being essential to address the greatest threats to labor rights and health;
  • Leverage respects the brands' and factories' degree of influence over outcomes while expanding that influence over time; and
  • Legal sophistication means that the Electronics Watch guidance adjusts standards to the products being purchased and calibrates transparency to the needs of specific stakeholders—brands, factories, workers and the public—while respecting safeguards in law for confidential information.

Contractors that follow the Electronics Watch guidance will soon discover that they gain a competitive advantage as they extend their leverage and build public confidence over time.

-- Robert Stumberg, Professor of Law and Director, Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown Law, United States

The Guidance brings concreteness and structure to an emerging area of social responsibility. Global supply chains are notoriously complex so coming up with limited and actionable responsibilities is essential.  With this Guidance Electronics Watch has set its sights on the ultimate goal of systemic improvements while still allowing flexibility and evolution through "comply or explain" provisions tested in corporate governance. It will be important that such flexibility produces meaningful explanations. The Guidance offers an opportunity to public procurement authorities to step up their efforts and assume a long overdue leadership role by contributing their leverage to supply chains governance.  Public buyers should take note of this opportunity for meaningful collective action.

--Radu Mares, Dr. Docent, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Sweden

Barcelona City Council's commitment to a contracting model with the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility is unequivocal. A whole series of measures have been promoted to implement this model in public purchasing, including some important new regulations.  Barcelona City Council affiliated to Electronics Watch in February 2016. Following this affiliation, and in order to promote the initiatives presented in our own "Guide on Socially Responsible Public Procurement" Barcelona has included therein both the mention of this affiliation and the requirements for compliance with the Electronics Watch contract clauses.  We celebrate and support the publication of the Contractor Guidance developed by Electronics Watch, and we wish the organisation many successes in its implementation.  The Guidance will be an important tool to improve the labour conditions and job security of the working people who make the goods we buy.

--Jordi Ayala Roqueta, Manager of the Presidency and Economy, Barcelona City Council

This is useful guidance both for Contractors and Contracting Authorities, as it explains step by step the duties of both parties under the Electronics Watch conditions.  The guidance also provides both parties with an overview of the legal context behind the inclusion and enforceability of such conditions.  This should assist buyers in being able to drive forward compliance and improvement activities and for suppliers to clearly understand what is expected of them under these contract conditions.

--Emma Nicholson, Head of Development and Sustainability, Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges, Scotland

The Contractor Guidance is a key instrument for both suppliers and public authorities, but also to understand how effective due diligence can and should be developed. The Guidance articulates the Electronics Watch model of supply chain due diligence into specific goals and practices based on the contractual obligations established by the Contract Clauses. Through the Guidance Electronics Watch consolidates its unique model. A model which goes beyond current human rights due diligence practices. A Contractor is required to achieve outcomes within their control and only if it does not achieve the specific outcomes and they are not within its control they must comply with their contractual obligations by exercising and demonstrating effective due diligence. This is a sort of due diligence plus which moves away from the obligation of process established by current international soft-law instruments and national regulation to develop an obligation of result. It is only through this effective and accountable due diligence that we can guarantee human rights are respected in supply chains and violations remediated.

--Dr. Olga Martin-Ortega, Reader in Public International Law, University of Greenwich, Director of the Business, Human Rights and the Environment (BHRE) Research Group, UK

This is a brilliant, easy and wide-ranging guide to put in place due diligence and human rights' accountability in public contracts. It helps buyers to comply with the law, while promoting fair and innovative business. If all public buyers would follow it, public procurement could become a powerful instrument for protecting workers, environment and consumers against the "dark side" of globalism.

--Deborah Russo, Research Fellow in International Law, University of Florence, Italy

We applaud the efforts of Electronics Watch to harness the tremendous potential power of public procurement of electronic devices to improve the working conditions, the respect for their rights, and the lives of electronics workers throughout the global supply chain. The Guidance procedures will increase the transparency of these supply chains to further document how electronic devices are made as part of the global life cycle of these products. The Guidance will motivate and reward brands and suppliers that meet their legal and ethical responsibility to protect the health, safety and rights of electronics workers. The procedures will also help shine a spotlight on those brands and suppliers that continue to threaten workers' health, lives and livelihoods, and help end these abuses in an immensely wealthy industry that has more than enough resources to meet its responsibilities.

--Garrett Brown, MPH, CIH, Coordinator, Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network, United States

This Guidance has been reviewed by leading civil society organisations in the field of labour rights (or, as we say in CEREAL, "labour human rights"). I am very hopeful! This will be a very useful tool to promote better working and living conditions for thousands of workers in production countries and will take socially responsible procurement to higher levels.

--David Foust, Center for Reflection and Action on Labour Issues (CEREAL), Mexico