Electronic devices have become essential to the way we live and work. As the electronics industry has grown, so too have the problems in electronics supply chains. Child labour in the mining of gold used in mobile phones, excessive work hours in factories, the use of toxic chemicals which threaten the health and lives of workers – just a few examples of the problems in the industry.

With our expertise in corporate research and supply chain accountability, we aim to improve conditions in the electronics industry. Alongside of research, we facilitate cooperation between civil society organisations. We host the global GoodElectronics network, a network of trade unions, NGOs, activists, and researchers contributing to human rights and sustainability in the global electronics industry.

We also help develop initiatives that directly address the problems in electronics supply chains. We are one of the initiators of Electronics Watch, an independent monitoring organisation working to achieve respect for labour rights in the global electronics industry through socially responsible public procurement in Europe.

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the bigger picture

Sustainable Supply Chains

Many of the problems facing people in middle and low income countries (indirectly) result from the practices and policies of multinational corporations at the end of the supply chain.

This can be seen in the supply chains of the garment industry, electronics sector, food production and pharmaceutical industry.

Bad working conditions and unsustainable practices

Many people in these sectors are working under inhumane and dangerous conditions with little or no respect for labour rights or environmental standards. Excessive hours, low wages and precarious employment conditions are common in supply chains of the garments, electronics and food sectors. It’s no coincidence that those who are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation – migrants, young people and women – are heavily employed in these sectors.

Binding regulations and good practices

Together with trade unions and other civil society organisations, SOMO presses for the promotion and protection of the rights of workers, communities and individuals in all stages of supply chains. SOMO pushes for regulation, policies and practices that ensure decent work and sustainability, including legally enforceable corporate accountability mechanisms and a leading role for workers in monitoring and ensuring improvement of workplace conditions. SOMO promotes sustainable public procurement which, by mobilising the massive purchasing power of the public sector, can bring about structural improvements in supply chains.

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Updates on this topic

First university joins Electronics Watch

This week, the University of Groningen (RUG) became the first Dutch university to join Electronics Watch, an independent European organisation that monitors working conditions in the electronics industry. Through Electronics Watch, the University of Groningen…

The Poisonous Pearl

Occupational chemical poisoning in the electronics industry in the Pearl River Delta, People’s Republic of China

No golden future

Hivos, as coordinator of the Stop Child Labour Coalition (SCL), commissioned SOMO to conduct research into the use of child labour in gold mining in Uganda. The report No Golden Future contains the results of…

Cobalt from Congo: whose wealth?

Cobalt blues

Environmental pollution and human rights violations  in Congolese cobalt mines

AFREWATCH strives for equal access to natural resources

SOMO published its new report ‘Cobalt Blues’ today. It includes a contribution by African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH) from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Emmanuel Umpala Nkumba, director of the nonprofit organisation AFREWATCH, discusses his…

Hanze University supports fair electronics

Hanze University of Applied Sciences is set to become the first Dutch institution of higher education to affiliate to Electronics Watch – an independent monitoring organisation helping public organisations source socially responsible IT products. Hanze…

Mining Misery: Film and debate on cobalt mines in Congo

It is used in batteries, laptops and mobile phones: cobalt. Most cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and frequently involves gross human rights violations. Video / April 18, 2016 Cobalt from Congo:…