Sweatshop Free

Computers made in sweatshops end up in our stores, schools, colleges, universities, communities, workplaces and homes. Workers that made them likely spent excessively long hours in dangerous factories. Some are at risk of developing cancer from toxic chemical exposure, which also pollutes the environment. Many sweatshop workers experience violence and are at risk of modern slavery.

Sweatshop Free is part of a movement of people across the world, who are coming together to win workers’ rights for sweatshop labourers. Our campaign brings together students and workers in a coalition capable of challenging the root causes of unacceptable working conditions.

Join a Campaign at your university

Enter your university below to see if there's already a group running this campaign there. If not we can support you to start one up.

1. Get your uni to join Electronics Watch

The primary goal of the Sweatshop Free campaign is to get universities, colleges and other public sector bodies to join Electronics Watch, allowing them to find out the working conditions the products they purchase are made in.

Electronics Watch directly supports worker led monitoring and accountability through informal workers groups, civil society organisations and independent trade unions where workers in sweatshops are based, from Mexico to South Korea and from the Philippines to China

2. Stand in Solidarity with workers

Around the world, electronics industry workers are taking collective action against the conditions they face.

In November 2012, trade unions mobilised 10,000 Indonesian workers in an attempted occupation of a Samsung factory to protest union-busting. Across Apple’s supply chain, from Mexico to China, strikes have taken place outside union structures to demand better working conditions and pay.

These strikes, actions and mobilisations represent a growing workers’ movement in the industry that students can support with action here in the UK. We can act in solidarity with oppressed and exploited communities in this chain. Sweatshop Free is part of a movement of people across the world, connecting people who use computers with those that make them.

2. Raise awareness about Sweatshops

People need to know about your campaign if they’re going to join it. Help them find out. This is all about reaching out to students and letting them know all about your campaign. Speak to people, get their support, and build alliances.

Students and staff will only act to change their university if they know that there’s a problem, and that they can be part of the solution. Expose the problem of human rights abuses in electronics supply chains and increase the call for your university to do its part to protect human rights.

4. Get your university or college to act on any workers’ rights abuses

Once your university or college has committed to affiliate to Electronics Watch, you’ve already taken a great step for workers rights. By affiliating, your institution has proven that it won’t stand for worker rights abuses in their supply chains!

However, committing to affiliate is only one part of the process. Firstly you’ll need to double check that the institution follows through and goes through the affiliation process. This means following up on board meetings, checking in on policy, and meeting with the institution’s decision-makers. You may need to increase the campaign pressure if the institution is dragging its feet.

What’s this got to do with students, colleges and universities?

We all use and depend on products made in sweatshops. Every year our universities and colleges spend over £10 billion on products that students use every day. Much of this money goes to companies with long records of human rights abuses. In terms of the electronics industry, each university generally spends between £3 million and £12 million on computers and other hardware every year.

One in five computers in Europe is bought by the public sector. In 2007 that amounted to €94 billion, a number which has only increased since.

How do we make a difference?

When colleges, universities and other public institutions come together and join Electronics Watch, they can start making important requests from market leaders, including Apple, HP, Dell, Samsung and others.

They can ask:

  • where factories in their supply chains are. Transparency is a crucial first step to finding out about working conditions.
  • what policies the companies have to protect workers.
  • what reparations they offer when they find abuses have occurred.
  • for workers to participate in factory monitoring and problem-solving.

 

Electronics Watch

In 2013, a coalition of workers’ rights organisations in countries producing electronics and European purchasers launched Electronics Watch. This became the first worker led organisation supporting demands for democratic unions, better pay and improved factory conditions in the electronics industry.

Electronics Watch members are public buyers based in Europe. They do not want our money to be spent on products made in horrible conditions. So, they are banding together, through Electronics Watch and demanding that workers in the electronics supply chain:

  1. are working in decent conditions
  2. can access justice and reparation if they experience abuse
  3. can undertake monitoring of factory conditions and make anonymous complaints

Electronics Watch members are coming together to say that they don’t want to buy products that were made under modern slavery, with forced labour, or simply in degrading working conditions.

Electronics Watch directly supports worker led monitoring and accountability through informal workers groups, civil society organisations and independent trade unions where workers in sweatshops are based, from Mexico to South Korea and from the Philippines to China.

The primary goal of the Sweatshop Free campaign is to get our universities and colleges to join Electronics Watch and take their responsibility as major purchasers of electronics seriously!