2015 March 16

Electronics Watch foundation is formally established under Dutch law

Years of hard work paid off this week, with the legal establishment of the Electronics Watch foundation, whose mission is to achieve respect for labour rights in the global electronics industry through socially responsible public purchasing in Europe. This milestone marks the official launch of its work to monitor the electronics factories of its affiliate members, and push for better conditions for workers in electronics supply chains across the globe.

The Electronics Watch Board of Trustees was voted into place in September 2014, by an Informal Advisory Group of 58 specialists which will transform into the Formal Advisory Board of 20 permanent advisors later this year. Advisors and Trustees alike hail from the three constituencies of Electronics Watch: public buyers in Europe; NGOs, trade unions, academics and other experts from around the globe; and labour groups from electronics production countries in the Global South.

Electronics Watch currently has one staff member, Bjorn Claeson, but expects to expand their staff to cover the different global areas of computer production. According to Claeson: "We are thrilled to announce that Electronics Watch is now official.  After years of planning and work by the original seven project partners and advisory groups, and more recently by the newly formed Board of Trustees, Electronics Watch has incorporated as a non-profit organization under Dutch law.  We warmly welcome the first five affiliates who have taken this important step to investigating and addressing labour violations in their contractors' supply chains, and ensuring that working conditions improve. Electronics Watch expects initiating monitoring activities in the second half of 2015."

The legal establishment of the Electronics Watch foundation is the keystone of a lengthy process of consultation and discussion. Legal experts and representatives of the different constituencies were involved to formulate legally robust statutes. The composition of the Board of Trustees and the voting procedures reflect the high value that Electronics Watch places on the voice of labour groups from electronics production regions. Safeguards preventing the possibility of corporate interference are built in.

Over the past few months the Board of Trustees have been meeting to reach a consensus on the bylaws of the Electronics Watch foundation, which were finally signed off at a meeting on the 19th of February. Now the Electronics Watch Foundation, established under Dutch law, is a fact, with its legal seat in Amsterdam. As a next step, Electronics Watch will apply for formal charity status (public benefit organisation) in the Netherlands.

For the time being, Electronics Watch will not have a physical office. The project partners in the Electronics Watch steering group are working from their respective countries, seconded by the Affiliation Coordinator who works from his virtual office.

The Electronics Watch model draws inspiration from the Workers Rights Consortium, and differs from traditional social auditing in that it will not do superficial one-time spot checks. Instead, through its close partnership with organisations based in production countries, it will do long-term monitoring and improvement of affiliate factories, with an extra focus on factories, areas and themes that need the most work.

If you are interested in affiliating, please contact Bjorn Claeson on bclaeson@electronicswatch.org