Following an initiative by the Green Party (‘GroenLinks’), Utrecht’s municipal council has decided (yesterday) to join Electronics Watch. This independent European monitoring organisation keeps track of labour conditions within the electronics industry. The municipality is walking in the footsteps of other European public purchasers who have rallied forces to stimulate structural improvements among their suppliers of electronics. Utrecht is the first municipality to sign up with Electronics Watch. The city’s university hospital UMC Utrecht has already joined the initiative.
Jeroen Kreijkamp, member of the City Council: “Electronics Watch has developed a code of conduct and carries out monitoring activities. It provides very valuable objective information about the electronics supply chain, which helps us engage our own suppliers in a dialogue.“
The electronics sector is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. But despite its modern and clean image, the sector falls short in terms of labour conditions: extremely long working days, low wages, exposure to poisonous or carcinogenic substances – these are but a few of the problems that plague the industry.
Cities and other public institutions are large-scale users of electronics. Even though many public organisations have expressed their wish for sustainable products, as purchasers, they lack adequate tools to influence the electronics industry.
Pauline Overeem of SOMO: “The combined purchasing power of public institutions is very considerable. If they rally together, they will be able to exert their influence on market players and achieve worldwide structural improvements to labour conditions in the electronics sector. We are therefore delighted that the municipality of Utrecht is taking this step.“
Electronics Watch facilitates socially responsible purchase of IT hardware by carrying out research, monitoring and improving labour conditions in factories that provide products to public and semi-public European organisations. Hospitals and regional purchasing conglomerates can join this new consortium, as well as municipalities and universities. Electronics Watch offers organisations specific tools and guidance to make their purchase of IT hardware more sustainable.
SOMO is one of the initiators of Electronics Watch.