The pandemic year of 2020 has brought monumental hardship to workers everywhere. Lockdowns, homeworking and social distancing have made screens our main means of communication. Those producing these screens and related hardware have all too often laboured unprotected, and been denied a voice about their own health and safety. Their realities have been defined by insecurity and exclusion. For this reason, 2020 has also been a year Electronics Watch took on great challenges.
Electronics Watch has released a statement condemning the recent killing of Dandy Miguel, a young trade union leader in the Philippines. He was shot dead on 28 March while riding his motorcycle home from work. Attacks against unionists, activists and critics have escalated during the Duterte regime and the pandemic. Last year the Philippines was ranked among the ten worst countries for violations of workers' rights.
The City of Ghent in Belgium, with their ICT partner District09, and Ghent University, are the latest public sector bodies to join the rapidly expanding Electronics Watch network. These organisations have worked on sustainable procurement for some time. Now they intend to delve deeper into ICT.
Curtin University and Electronics Watch celebrate the first affiliation in Australia. Electronics are recognized as being in the top five imported products in Australia at risk of modern slavery with a combined import value of nearly $10 billion.
Electronics Watch and The Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) have entered into a formal agreement whereby the two organizations will work together to address issues in the global supply chains of RBA members where products are manufactured for public procurement.
Dataport, the IT service provider for municipal government organizations in six German states: Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein, has affiliated to Electronics Watch for an initial period of six years.
Major consumers of smartphones, the cities of Malmö, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Helsinki, with the support of Electronics Watch, ICLEI and the Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network, have launched a challenge to companies to provide fair and circular smartphones by 2025. The demand calls for fair and safe working conditions across the supply chain, from raw materials through manufacturing and disposal, improved transparency, and verification through certification and worker-driven monitoring.
A leading group of European public authorities, guided by Electronics Watch and ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), have piloted socially responsible public procurement of ICT hardware. The group includes Electronics Watch affiliates Barcelona City Council, Municipality of Haarlem, APUC Scotland and Region Stockholm as well as the City of Stavanger. From market dialogue to contract management, the five public buyers took critical steps towards fairer electronics supply chains.
On the 30th of November, at the first day of the Electronics Watch OHS Summit, Candela Vidal-Abarca Garrido of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission introduced the brand new EU Ecolabel for electronic displays. Established in 1992, the EU Ecolabel promotes products and services with a lower environmental impact throughout their life cycle. The new Ecolabel blends environmental and social criteria with a strong verification process.
In the first week of December, 180 people from 33 countries participated in the Electronics Watch Summit ‘ReWORKing Health & Safety: Protecting Workers and Promoting Resilient Public Sector Supply Chains’. Thirty-three expert speakers led participants on a journey of presentations, interviews and discussions across eight topics, including transparency and the right to know, migrant workers, women workers, and mining, focusing in each case on possible solutions and the role of public procurement. You can watch recordings of the webinars here, and a summary of the whole event here.