Two days prior to the public release of the Economic Rights Institute and Electronics Watch study on the link between employment conditions and employee suicide in China's electronics industry, the Responsible Business Alliance announced a new initiative to improve "worker well-being" in manufacturing supply chains in Asia. While this is a visibly larger investment in quality of life issues than previous industry efforts, the ERI and Electronics Watch urge the industry not to lose sight of the link between these issues, the risk of suicide, and employment conditions.
Lewisham Council has become the second local authority in the UK to be affiliated with Electronics Watch, joining over 300 public sector organisations around the world working to support the rights of workers involved in the supply of electronic items. UNISON, one of the UK's largest trade unions and also an Electronics Watch affiliate, has devised a four-year plan to work with UK public bodies to eliminate the use of goods which are sourced or produced through modern slavery and other abuses of workers.
New Guidance for Remediation of Migrant Worker Recruitment Fees to Help Public Buyers Address Forced Labour
After the recent Call to Industry to Prevent Forced Labour Risks, following a compliance investigation at Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand), Electronics Watch has published Guidance for Remediation of Migrant Worker Recruitment Fees and Related Costs. The rules refer to the recently adopted ILO Definition of Recruitment Fees and Related Costs, and are intended as a framework for public buyers to detect when the recruitment of migrant workers at any point in their supply chains creates risk of forced labour through debt bondage and guide suppliers in detecting, remedying and preventing recruitment fees and related costs charged to migrant workers.
"Worker voice" has become a new CSR buzz word signalling recognition that social audits do not adequately allow companies to engage with workers or understand issues that only workers can report. New "worker voice providers" offer applications to help companies engage with workers. But what is it for workers to have a voice?
The Greater London Authority (GLA), a strategic regional authority in the United Kingdom, affiliated to Electronics Watch at the end of 2018. The GLA is responsible for delivering transport, policing, economic development, fire and emergency planning services, and consists of five functional bodies — Transport for London (a founding member of Electronics Watch), London Fire Commissioner, Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime and the Metropolitan Police Service, London Legacy Development Corporation and Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation. Another large consortium, "Sustainable Public Procurement," a national collaboration between the Swedish County Councils and Regions, has also affiliated.
Electronics Watch and our monitoring partner, the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN), have for over two years been documenting excessive recruitment-related fees and expenses that migrant workers from Myanmar pay to get a job at two sites of Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand). While working conditions have improved in some respects following buyer intervention, industry attempts to detect, remedy and prevent excessive recruitment fees and related forced labour risk have not yet been effective.
Electronics Watch has released a regional risk assessment of the electronics industry in Indonesia which suggests that risks of breach of the rights to freedom of employment, freedom of association and collective bargaining, limits on working hours, and health and safety regulations are of particular concern.
During the last two years Electronics Watch has monitored migrant worker recruitment channels from Myanmar to Thailand, focusing on one of the largest electronics employers of migrant workers in Thailand, to help detect and eliminate debt bondage and other forced labour risks. Electronics Watch has recently expanded focus to the recruitment of migrant workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Nepal to electronics factories in both Malaysia and Thailand.
Electronics Watch has launched its new and improved website, now also in French. We especially invite visitors to check out the new sections: "For Public Buyers" – a one-stop-shop for everything public buyers need to know about the Electronics Watch model of "contracting for change", including the Public Buyer Toolkit, and "Workers' Issues" - workers' stories highlighting the larger themes and challenges that form the core of the Electronics Watch Strategic Plan 2018-2020.
90 participants from 18 countries, including 41 public buyers, came away from the third Electronics Watch Annual Conference with new connections and plans for future work together.
An ideal opportunity for stakeholders to get closer and understand more of others' perspectives. I really liked the way of organizing the conference: promoting communications among participants, not just focusing on presentations of speakers. (conference participant)