The University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht) is the first Dutch affiliate of Electronics Watch, an independent European monitoring organisation overseeing and improving labour conditions in the global electronics industry. The hospital is joining forces with other European public sector organisations that procure ICT hardware and want to promote structural improvements in this sector.
The electronics sector is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. But despite its modern and clean image, there are serious shortcomings in the sector’s labour conditions: extremely long working days, low wages, exposure to toxic cancer-causing substances, to name just a few problems often encountered in the sector.
Hospitals and other public institutions are large consumers of electronics. Many public organisations want to engage in sustainable procurement. However, they lack the necessary tools to exert influence on the electronics industry.
Pauline Overeem of Electronics Watch: “Collectively, public sector organisations can have considerable purchasing leverage. If they rally their forces, they can really exert influence on the different agents in the market, and ultimately accomplish structural improvements in workers’ rights throughout the electronics sector worldwide. We are therefore delighted that, in the Netherlands, UMC Utrecht is the first to join this important initiative”.
Anne Marie van den Berg, senior purchaser at UMC Utrecht: “Corporate social responsibility has long been an issue that we strive to integrate in our purchasing processes. One of our goals is to gain insight into the labour conditions across the international production chains that deliver the products we use. Electronics Watch provides us with very valuable objective information on the electronics supply chain, and this helps us establish a dialogue with our suppliers.”
Electronics Watch facilitates socially responsible public procurement of IT hardware in Europe. The consortium carries out research and monitoring activities with regard to the working conditions in factories that supply products to organisations in the European (semi) public sector. Hospitals, regional procurement concerns, as well as municipalities and universities, can join the new consortium. Electronics Watch provides organisations with specific tools and guidance that facilitate the sustainable procurement of ICT hardware.
SOMO is one of the initiators of ElectronicsWatch.