A petition calling on the Scottish Government to start monitoring labour standards in its electronics supply chains has gathered over 20,000 signatures in under 48 hours (note 1). Opposition MSPs have also pledged support to the campaign.
The petition, launched by petition site SumOfUs.org and campaigning group People & Planet is calling on the Scottish Government to join a European Information and Communications Technology (ICT) labour standards monitoring group Electronics Watch. The move would ensure that Scottish Government ICT contractors are held into account for labour standards violations in factories that they use to produce ICT equipment.
The Scottish public sector spends £750m per year on ICT equipment, while the Scottish Government spends £150m of its direct annual procurement budget on electronics (Note 1). Through its membership, Electronics Watch monitors 1% of public spending on ICT equipment in Europe. This gives Electronics Watch £1.2 Billion of leverage over the market.
A number of Scottish public sector bodies have already joined electronics Watch including the University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh and Advanced Procurement Universities and Colleges. Public Sector giants Transport For London has been one of the most recent affiliates (note 2).
The ICT industry has been tarnished in recent years by a number of scandals, involving majors brands getting caught abusing internationally recognised labour standards (note 3).
Activists from the People & Planet gathered today outside the Scottish Parliament to draw attention to the petition asks. Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson and Green MSP Alison Johnstone joined protesters to call on the Scottish Government to take action and sign up to Electronics Watch.
Patricia Ferguson has lodged a motion in Holyrood (note 4), urging the Government to recognise its responsibility in upholding international labour standards and join the monitoring body.
Patricia Ferguson, Labour MSP, said: “I am sure that the Scottish Government would not knowingly spend taxpayers money on equipment that’s been made in inhumane conditions by underpaid, abused workers. That would be unacceptable, and I hope that the Scottish Government will check out its supply chain and join Electronics Watch.”
“At the moment, the Scottish Government may be spending taxpayers’ money on equipment that’s been made in inhumane conditions by underpaid, abused workers. This is simply unacceptable, and I urge the Government to clean up its act and join Electronics Watch.”
Dominic O’Hagan, Activism & Sweatshop Free Co-ordinator, said: “The Scottish Government has already shown that Scotland can take the lead in supporting workers’ rights by recently becoming a Living Wage Employer. We’re now asking them to recognise the rights and needs of workers further afield.
“The electronics supply chain is tarnished by systematic abuse of workers’ basic rights, and our government must make sure it is playing its part in tackling these violations through our huge collective purchasing clout.
“This petition shows that there is real public demand for Scottish Government to lead the way in ethical electronics supply chains. I hope Scotland will be a good global citizen by becoming the first nation to sign up to Electronics Watch.”