The Business, Human Rights and the Environment Research Group (BHRE), the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) and Electronics Watch are delighted to announce the next Greenwich Symposium on socially responsible public procurement. This Symposium follows two successful ones in 2014 and 2015 where we explored the challenges and opportunities for public buyers to make a difference in the lives of those producing the products we purchase. This year's symposium focuses on Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking and Human Rights Risks in the Global Supply Chain, and addresses the challenges and opportunities for public procurement to become a transformative tool for the respect and protection of workers.
Public procurement and human rights is an increasingly hot topic among institutional buyers and suppliers and Electronics Watch is an active participant in meetings and conferences that bring together leading practitioners. In just a few short months this autumn Electronics Watch is participating in seven roundtables and conferences throughout Europe and the United States with representatives of public buyers, NGOs, academics, and industry. All these fora are highlighting best practice on public procurement and human rights, seeking to identify practical solutions on transparency, risk assessments, and labour rights compliance. If you are a public sector buyer, this is a great time to learn more about Electronics Watch and our solutions to identify, mitigate and prevent risk in your electronics supply chains.
An Electronics Watch risk assessment of the electronics industry in China suggests that risks of particular concern include forced labour, discrimination against women workers, excessive and illegal working hours, underpayment of social security obligations, health and safety hazards, abusive termination of employment, and violations of collective bargaining rights. Three experienced monitoring organisations—Economic Rights Institute, Globalization Monitor, and Labour Education Services Network—conducted the research and monitoring activities for this regional risk assessment, which was released to affiliates in October 2016.
Electronics Watch has got the word out at conferences on both sides of the Atlantic in recent months.
UN Sustainable Procurement Agency Publishes Electronics Watch Report on Public Procurement and Human Rights Due Diligence
The UN Informal Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS) has published Electronics Watch's recent report on public procurement and human rights due diligence on its platform, savinglivesustainably.org.
"Our overtime is forced work, forced overtime. When you refuse, there is a penalty, you are suspended, or the company threatens us with termination." —Electronics worker in Philippines, interview by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR).
The risk of forced labour in the Philippine electronics industry is high, reports CTUHR, in its recent Regional Risk Assessment for Electronics Watch, soon available to Electronics Watch affiliates.
Electronics Watch is proud to welcome four new affiliates: The State of Vaud, the first Swiss affiliate; and the University of Bournemouth, University of Westminster, and Swansea University in the UK.
According to the International Labour Organization about 21 million men, women and children around the world work in conditions of slavery and forced labour today. Documented forced labour practices in the electronics industry include student "intern" workers in China who are forced to work as regular workers for one or two years in order to obtain their educational diplomas, and excessive recruitment fees and deceptive recruitment practices resulting in debt bondage among electronics workers in Malaysia.
"Last year I suffered from hypotension. We worked five weeks in a row, weekends included, nonstop, so we could then exchange these days and get our December holidays. We were also working overtime. People got so burnt out they did not want to stay, simply because they could not stand it anymore. It was physically impossible to continue to work."
—Manuel, electronics worker, interview by CEREAL
On March 30, 2016 Apple released its 10th Supplier Responsibility Progress Report. Two days later, on April 1, the latest UK Higher Education Framework Agreement for Apple products went live. It includes the Electronics Watch Contract Conditions, which means that UK universities affiliated to Electronics Watch can now legally require their contractors to respect domestic and international labour standards in Apple's supplier factories.