On May 7, 2020, toxic Styrene gas leaked from the LG Polymers Chemical plant, a unit of South Korean LG Chem, near Visakhapatnam in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The gas leak has killed 12 persons and sickened more than 1,000 people and has been covered widely in the media in India and globally as a tragedy reminiscent of the Bhopal gas tragedy 36 years ago. Electronics Watch and Cividep, our monitoring partner in India, support the calls of the local community and others for full remediation for the victims, and for a thorough investigation by the relevant authorities to discover and publish the causes of this tragedy.
Our recent publication "When Compliance is Not Enough - Why victims of forced labour should be partners in the remediation design" shows just why it is essential that workers are involved in the process of remediation, and raises a fundamental question about the limits of responsible business conduct: When companies address violations in their supply chains in accordance with their codes of conduct, but workers still suffer serious harm, does human rights due diligence require the companies to do more? Listen also to the recorded statement from a former worker at Possehl.
The much awaited UK Government's Modern Slavery Statement published recently highlights the work they are doing with Electronics Watch to tackle modern slavery in their ICT hardware and electronics supply chains.
Electronics Watch is delighted to welcome four new affiliates, one of which is the first international organisation to affiliate - the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Julia Rutz, Senior Adviser with the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings said: "This is an important step, that the OSCE as a promotor of policies on prevention of human trafficking in public sector supply chains also took the strategic decision to ensure that its own supply chains and procurement practices do not contribute to human trafficking."
The new, flu-like virus first observed in China is now a worldwide epidemic with serious consequences and risks for workers' rights. The epidemic's effects will extend well beyond the risk of people becoming ill. Limits on people's mobility will obstruct their return to work, resulting in a loss of income for everyone involved. People will struggle with the restrictive environment of monitoring and quarantining. Electronics Watch and the Economic Rights Institute have released guidance for public buyers to help protect the rights of workers in their supply chains affected by the epidemic.
Cal-Comp Thailand, supplier of printers, external hard disk drives and other computer peripherals, was in the limelight recently after 10,570 migrant factory workers in two facilities received full compensation for excessive recruitment fees they had paid. What happened in this case? What lessons does it offer about remediating debt bondage and forced labour in global supply chains? What remains to be done? Read Cal-Comp: A Lesson in the Importance of Worker-Driven Monitoring to End Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains.
New partnerships, projects and affiliations emerge from the Electronics Watch Annual Conference 2019
Over 100 participants from 22 countries, including 51 public buyers joined the fourth Electronics Watch Annual Conference in Barcelona. The programme boasted some of the world's top experts in socially responsible public procurement, international labour rights, migrants' rights, and occupational health and safety.
The Government of Catalonia and Metropolitan Transport of Barcelona affiliate to Electronics Watch at the Annual Conference of Electronics Watch 2019 in Barcelona
At the inauguration of the Electronics Watch Annual Conference 2019, hosted this year at the Center of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona, La Generalitat (Government of Catalonia) announced its affiliation to Electronics Watch. Later in the event, Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), the main public transport operator in the Barcelona metropolitan area, also formalized their affiliation to Electronics Watch.
Electronics Watch has released a regional risk assessment of the electronics industry in Vietnam which suggests that risks of breach in the areas of freedom of employment, freedom of association, working hours, and health and safety are of particular concern. A research team with the Center for Development and Integration (CDI) in Vietnam conducted the risk assessment.
The North West Universities Purchasing Consortium (NWUPC) has become the third UK Universities Purchasing Consortium to affiliate to Electronics Watch on behalf of all (32) member organisations, and the eighth consortium in Europe.