Durham University is the latest to take a stand on the issue of labour rights in the electronics industry. Using their spending power to push for fair electronics, they are the latest body to affiliate to Electronics Watch, an independent worker rights monitoring organisation growing in popularity across the public sector.
Universities spend £10bn per year on buying products and services, and one of their biggest costs is ICT. Many of the computers, laptops, tablets and phones used by an increasingly tech savvy student and staff population are manufactured in places like China, Vietnam and Thailand, where there are serious and sustained abuses of labour rights
Many of them are now coming together through the Europe-wide Electronics Watch initiative to use their purchasing power collectively to help make this change.
By joining Electronics Watch, Durham University will push for better conditions for workers in the supply chains of the brands it has contracts with, and gain independent worker-led monitoring of the factories they use.
Durham University’s Deputy Director of Procurement Laura Watson said: “Social responsibility is something to which the University is committed. We have already signed up to the Worker Rights Consortium – an organisation that protects workers in the garments industry. We are also a Fairtrade University. We have the opportunity to influence improvements and protect workers in the global electronics industry which is the reason we are now affiliated to Electronics Watch”.
Campaign Supported by People & Planet
This victory is a result of a national student-led Sweatshop Free campaign supported by People & Planet, the UK’s largest student campaigning network. The campaign is gathering huge momentum in Britain, with more affiliations being confirmed each week.
Durham University student Rachel Unwin said: ‘This comes after Durham responded to a campaign in June to improve the ethics of their garments procurement. We’ve continued our campaigning on ethical supply chains, and Durham University is showing that it really is taking ethical procurement and human rights seriously. This is a good step forwards for both the University, and for the Electronics Watch campaign.’
People & Planet campaigner Jim Cranshaw said: ‘Yet again, a mixture of determined student campaigning, and a responsive university administration, has led to another university joining Electronics Watch. There is now a growing movement of public sector organisations that are saying no to the brutal workers’ rights abuses that characterise the electronics industry.’