Durham University has committed to only purchasing ethically sourced electronics, taking a stand on the issue of labour rights within the industry after becoming an affiliate to Electronics Watch.
Electronics Watch is an independent monitoring organisation that encourages responsible purchasing in Europe in order to improve working conditions of labourers. By becoming an affiliate, Durham University will now push for better conditions within supply chains of the brands it has contracts with.
Durham University’s deputy director of procurement, Laura Watson said, “Social responsibility is something to which the university is committed. We have already signed the Worker Rights Consortium – an organisation that protects workers in the garments industry. We are also a Fairtrade university.
“We have an opportunity to influence improvements and protect workers in the global electronics industry which is the reason we are now affiliated to Electronics Watch.”
According to People & Planet, which supports the Sweatshop Free campaign, universities spend £10 billion each year on buying products and services, with ICT being one of their biggest costs. The organisation argues that many computers, laptops, tablets and phone used by the staff and student population are manufactured in places like China and Thailand, where there are serious and sustained abuses of labour rights.
The University of Leeds also signed up to Electronics Watch last year, and a number of other institutions are affiliates.
Jim Cranshaw, a campaigner at People & Planet, commented, “Yet again, a mixture of determination student campaigning, and a responsive university administration, has led to another university joining Electronics Watch. There is now a growing movement of public sector organisations that are saying no to the brutal workers’ rights abuses that characterise the electronics industry.”
Photo: Andrew Bowden via Flickr