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Report: forced student labour makes UK universities’ servers and ICT equipment



European universities spend billions on ICT equipment produced by young Chinese students under harsh conditions, which violates their rights and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention on forced labour.

While young European students enjoyed their summer break from studying, thousands of Chinese students, some as young as 15, were deployed to the assembly lines of the world’s biggest electronics manufacturers.

A new investigation published today by People & Planet and Dan Watch reveals a systematic exploitation of Chinese students in the production of ICT equipment which is then used by UK universities.

Thousands of Chinese students work 10-12 hours a day, six days a week, for up to 5 months under conditions which violate Chinese labour law and educational standards for internship programmes. Furthermore the forced internships violate the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention against forced labour, the investigations shows.

Two days after the report is released UK students from the People & Planet network are joining students across Europe in holding a ‘Day of Action’. They are calling on their universities to take action on student forced labour in their supply chains by joining Electronics Watch, a worker-led labour rights monitoring organisation for the public sector.

“We are all depressed” Xu Min, 19, studies accountancy. She and 300 schoolmates did not have a summer break this year, instead their school forced them to spend three-five months working from 8am-8pm at a Wistron factory in Zhongshan in Southern China – a factory which produces servers for the three IT giants HP, Dell and Lenovo, which are the most used server brands by European universities and higher education institutions.

“We are standing at the assembly line the whole day, doing the same task again and again. It has nothing to do with my education. None of us want to be here. We are all depressed, but we have no choice, because the school told us that if we refused, we would not get our diploma. The work is exhausting”, Xu min says.

The investigation ‘Servants of servers’ shows that Chinese educational policies for internship programmes and Wistron HP, Dell and Lenovo’s own policies dictated that internships should be relevant for students’ studies.

Forced labour

Experts based in China and elsewhere describe the forced internship programmes at electronics factories like Wistron as forced labour. Liu Kaiming, an expert in Chinese law and director of the Institute of Contemporary Observation in Guangdong, says in the investigation ‘Servants of servers’: “It is de facto forced labour if students are obliged to be interns at electronic factories in order to get their diplomas”.

The new investigation ‘Servants of servers’ shows, that European educational institutions spend £3.14 billion on hardware, software and IT services (2015) to secure a quality education for millions of young Europeans. On servers alone, higher education institutions in Europe spent £350 million. HP is the market leader in the higher education sector with a market share of 28 percent. Dell controls 13 percent and Lenovo 11 percent.

After being presented with the findings of the investigation HP and Dell have acknowledged several violations of interns working conditions and and have temporarily suspended the use of student interns in their production lines at the Wistron factory in Southern China.

HP says: “The use of student workers has been discontinued on HP production lines at Wistron Zhongshan and we are working with factory management to ensure students are placed in appropriate educational settings”.

Jim Cranshaw, a campaigner from People & Planet said ‘It’s truly shocking that students here in the UK are using computers and servers made by students as young as 15, forced to labour, in China. Students are calling on universities should use their contracts to insist that suppliers improve conditions by joining Electronics Watch, a workers rights monitoring organisations set up by NGOs for this purpose.’

James Snowden, a student protesting on 7 October over the issues said ‘Students at the University of Sheffield will not stand for the outdated, unethical and unsustainable purchasing of electrical goods, that leads to the mental and physical degradation of those at the bottom of global supply chains. This is why we are campaigning for our university to join Electronics Watch’

Key findings in the investigation ‘Servants of servers’:
– Thousands of Chinese students are forced to complete irrelevant internships at the factory.
– The students work more than 10 hours a day, do overtime and night shifts.
– The work conditions violates both Chinese Labour Law and the International Labour Law’s (ILO) conventions.
– If the students refuses to complete the internship, they will be denied receiving their diploma.

The investigation is based on interviews with 25 students interns, several regular workers, two line managers and a Wistron Corporation recruitment agent in Zhongshan, Guangdong, China. As well as with interviews from the involved companies and several experts on the issue.

People & Planet is the largest UK student network campaigning to end world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment. DanWatch is an independent non-profit media and research center. Electronics Watch is an independent monitoring organisation working to achieve respect for labour rights in the global electronics industry through socially responsible public purchasing in Europe.


A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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