Electronics sector failing to make the grade

gadgetsMore than 50 electronics companies failed to determine whether raw materials used in their products were obtained using slave labour, child labour and exploitation, says a global report.

The 2016 Electronics Industry Trends report released by Baptist World Aid graded 56 company’s from A to F, on the strength of company practices and policies they have in place to reduce the risk of forced labour, child labour and exploitation. The grading of the electronics company’s is reflective of the levels of visibility and transparency they have across their supply chain.

Sixty-four per cent of the companies surveyed showed slight improvement while 9 per cent showed significant improvement compared to the report from the previous year. Companies that showed significant improvement included Dick Smith Electronics, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, BlackBerry, Samsung, Philips and Garmin. No company earned an A grade.

According to the report, Garmin and Dick Smith are the “only two companies to demonstrate any measures to address poverty level wages.”

Hisense, Palsonic and Polaroid got an F rating while Vorwerk, owners of Thermomix, received D.

The report revealed a number of Australian brands including Kogan, Soniq and Palsonic were among the worst performers receiving D- and F grades. Dick Smith moved from D to B.

The median grade was C which suggests workers are still overworked and underpaid, working long shifts with no overtime pay, little rest and wages so low families struggle to make ends meet.

Gershon Nimbalker, Baptist World Aid Australia advocacy manager, said “forced labour, child labour and exploitation remain as significant problems in the supply chain of the electronics Industry. This is the most valuable industry in the world, worth in the trillions. If anyone can afford to ensure they have an ethical supply chain, it’s our big tech companies.”

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