Working towards change in the global electronics sectorApr 16, 2012
makeITfair works hard to promote substantial improvements in the production chain of consumer electronics; ranging from mining in Africa to manufacturing in Asia and Eastern Europe, and to the dumping of electronic waste in Africa. Here is a short overview of its most recent activities, including a campaign involving multinational Apple, and an update of the educational tool, Webquest. Furthermore, makeITfair and GoodElectronics have plans for the future. On 9 and 10 May they are organising a Round Table, which will bring together representatives of the electronics industry and civil society organisations from around the globe.
The Apple campaign
Playful protests of the makeITfair’s campaign It’s time to bite into a fair Apple. Call for sustainable IT’ were held worldwide from Guadalajara to Berlin, Budapest, Helsinki, Oslo, Taipei, Stockholm, Montreuil and Hong Kong. At the end of 2011, US campaigning groups like SumofUS and Change.org also started campaigning; they managed to mobilise many consumers in the US which intensified the pressure on Apple. The media coverage of the labour violations at Apple’s main supplier in China, Foxconn, based on the reports and fact finding missions of makeITfair and SACOM, was extensive: through the mass media makeITfair reached at least 17 million people. makeITfair has welcomed Apple’s step to join the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to clean up labour abuses in its supply chain, but at the same time makeITfair critically follows every step of Apple, Foxconn and the FLA to make sure no empty promises will be made.
The announced remediation plans go quite a way towards recommendations made over the years by makeITfair, especially regarding reducing working hours while protecting workers from losing income and the establishment of an elected workers’ representation without management interference. If implemented, these commitments will significantly improve the lives of more than 1.2 million Foxconn employees and will raise the bar across the sector. At the same time, comparable commitments have been made before and there are serious flaws in the analysis of the root cause and the solutions proposed by the FLA.
GoodElectronics and makeITfair are organising a Round Table on 9 and 10 May 2012 in Amsterdam, bringing together representatives of the electronics industry and civil society organisations from all over the globe. Key themes are trends and consequences in contract labour and wage issues in the global electronics industry. Freedom of association, collective bargaining, the position of employment agencies, migrant labour, grievance mechanisms and workers’ education are some of the topics that will be broached. The focus lies on discussing the different perspectives of the various actors and on defining a common ground for action towards lasting improvement of labour conditions. Earlier in 2009, makeITfair and the GoodElectronics Network also hosted a Round Table. The May 2012 Round Table is a follow-up to that session. Click here for the May 2009 Round Table report.
The Webquest has been updated by all makeITfair partners and is available in seven languages, and provides web-based educational material for school children of 14-17 years old. The material gives pupils a good look at the whole production chain in the mobile phone market and will challenge them to be critical consumers. While they focus attention on appearance and goals, they are also learning about issues such as working conditions or environmental problems in the supply chain. This Webquest helps them form an opinion on their own.