Consumers urged to rethink their next gadget purchase

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Over 50 electronics companies fail to make the grade on forced labour, child labour and exploitation
  • Of the 56 companies assessed, none received an A grade, the median score was C.
  • Garmin and Dick Smith are amongst the best performers (B range), and the only two companies to demonstrate any measures to address poverty level wages.
  • Thermomix, Nutri-Bullet and GoPro amongst the worst performing at D-
  • The report assessed many of the world’s most valuable companies including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, and Sony.
  • No company provided evidence that workers were being paid a living wage.
  • 64% companies showed some improvement since the report’s release in 2014, however none had improved its practices and policies enough to earn an A grade.

The 2016 Electronics Industry Trends report released by Baptist World Aid shows the electronics industry has not made sufficient progress in implementing steps to protect workers.
“Forced labour, child labour and exploitation remain as significant problems in the supply chain of the electronics Industry. This is the most valuable industry in the world, worth in the trillions. If anyone can afford to ensure they have an ethical supply chain, it’s our big tech companies,” said Gershon Nimbalker, Advocacy Manager at Baptist World Aid Australia.
Now in its second year, the Electronics Industry Trends report graded 56 companies from A to F on the practices and policies they have in place to mitigate the risk of forced labour, child labour and exploitation. This grading reflects the levels of visibility and transparency these companies have across their supply chain.
While 64% of companies showed some improvement since the report’s release in 2014, not a single company had managed to improve its practices and policies enough to earn an A grade.
The median grade for the 2016 report was C suggesting workers remain overworked and underpaid working long shifts with no overtime pay, little rest and wages so low families struggle to make ends meet. This lack of a living wage was a top concern as it meant workers still would not be able to afford the basics – food, water, shelter and electricity.
The second Electronics Industry Trends report significantly builds on the previous year, grading 13 additional companies with 61% of all companies featured actively engaging in the research.
Of those surveyed two years in a row, Baptist World Aid applauds the progress of the 5 companies that improved the most:

About the report

The second Electronics Industry Trends Report is the culmination of two years of research by Baptist World Aid Australia, an aid and development organisation with a long history of campaigning on issues of international social justice.
To evaluate the 56 electronics companies represented in the report, we used an A–F grading system measured through key electronics supply chain production phases:

  1. Raw materials level: extraction of minerals
  2. Inputs level: smelting and refining and/or component manufacturing
  3. Final manufacturing

We then asked each company a set of 61 questions about its production policies and practices, addressing the company’s management of these policies and practices at each supply chain level. These questions fall into four categories:

1. Policies

We evaluated the brand’s code of conduct, sourcing and subcontracting policies, and involvement with other organisations working to combat child and forced labour.

2. Traceability & Transparency

We looked at how thoroughly the brand understands its own supply chain, and whether it discloses critical information to the public.

3. Monitoring and Training

We measured the adequacy of the brand’s monitoring program to address the specific issues of child and forced labour.

4. Worker Rights

We assessed the degree to which the brand supports worker well-being by ensuring that workers are able to claim their rights at work through collective bargaining or worker owned cooperatives, and whether workers earn a living wage.
Consumers can order a digital copy of the 2016 Electronics Industry Trends report by visiting Baptist World Aid’s website www.behindthebarcode.org.au. The full Electronics Industry Trends report is also available to download from this website.

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