A group of students from the University of East Anglia have curated this online exhibition to highlight the poorly monitored working conditions of those who make the electronic equipment that could end up being used at UEA and other UK universities. We believe those who work in sweatshop conditions deserve better, and want to stand in solidarity with them to demand that working conditions are monitored and authorities are held accountable for malpractice. Learn from the following exhibition, consider your own relationship with technology and support us by signing our open letter to the Southern University's Purchasing Consortium to see transformation within the electronics industry.

 
 

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WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

Throughout the Global South, poverty and climate change are driving people from their villages to work in sweatshops. These sweatshops are found in free-trade zones in cities where factory owners are usually exempt from protecting most  workers’ rights, tax and safety  regulations. Workers in the electronics industry face multiple rights abuses, including forced overtime, exposure to dangerous chemicals without adequate protection and restrictions on the right to form and organise trade unions. 


Workers, mostly young women, are paid poverty wages, too low to survive on, while the richest accumulate wealth at the expense of the poorest. Women face discrimination as well as exploitation. They work double days, earning on average 25% less than men for the same work. These abuses are prevalent throughout the supply chains of all major electronics brands, meaning that the electronic equipment used in our universities are made in these conditions. 
 

Throughout the Global South, poverty and climate change are driving people from their villages to work in sweatshops. These sweatshops are found in free-trade zones in cities where factory owners are usually exempt from protecting most  workers’ rights, tax and safety  regulations. Workers in the electronics industry face multiple rights abuses, including forced overtime, exposure to dangerous chemicals without adequate protection and restrictions on the right to form and organise trade unions. 


Workers, mostly young women, are paid poverty wages, too low to survive on, while the richest accumulate wealth at the expense of the poorest. Women face discrimination as well as exploitation. They work double days, earning on average 25% less than men for the same work. These abuses are prevalent throughout the supply chains of all major electronics brands, meaning that the electronic equipment used in our universities are made in these conditions. 
 

Where do our electronics come from?  What different materials are they made of? How are those materials mined, produced or sourced? What are the working conditions of these places?

The nature of electronic supply chains makes it very difficult to track where each part comes from, and what kind of conditions they were made in. The following presentation displays the typical supply origins of a computer's main components. Whilst not a full, perfect, or complete picture, it demonstrates the lack of transparency in the supply chain and the documented workers' rights abuses and environmental damage rife in the production of electronic equipment.

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Sweatshop workers are collectively struggling for better conditions and pay despite restrictions on their right to unionise. Lack of transparency in electronics supply chains means companies can cover up abuses of workers’ rights and demands for change in factories. Existing approaches are clearly failing to combat poverty and human rights abuses in the electronics industry. 
 
Sweatshop Free is a campaign that focuses on supporting workers’ demands for humane conditions at work. In 2013, a coalition of workers’ rights organisations in countries producing electronics and European purchasers launched Electronics Watch. This became the first worker-led organisation supporting demands for democratic unions, better pay and improved factory conditions in the electronics industry.  It monitors working conditions in electronics factories to enable socially responsible public purchasing in Europe. When a public body affiliates to Electronic Watch, it ensures there is independent, worker-driven monitoring of the factories where their electronic goods are produced – making contractors maintain the human rights of electronic workers and empowering them to transform the sector.

The SUPC are the Southern University Purchasing Consortium:
 

They are a "buying organisation for universities" - university technology is purchased and procured through them. One of their key supply chains is "ICT Equipment and Services" - including desktop computers. The SUPC is affiliated with Electronics Watch - but only for their own technology purchases: a tiny number in total. This does not apply to the electronics of its university members


If the SUPC affiliates on behalf of all its members, ALL technology supply chains will be monitored for ethical working conditions... for UEA and many other universities

 

20 universities have already affiliated with Electronics Watch independently. This includes Bournemouth University who are also a member of the SUPC. 

In 2017 the APUC became a  member of Electronics Watch, affiliating 44 higher education institutes in Scotland along with it.

In 2018, the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC), became the second purchasing consortium to affiliate on behalf of its 81 members.

We want the SUPC to do the same!

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The best thing you can do to help us achieve our aim is to sign this open letter.

Clicking this link will take you to the online letter, which will be sent to the SUPC themselves - urging them to affiliate with Electronics Watch. Each signature is a plea to the SUPC to take charge in monitoring workers conditions, standing against forced labour and human rights abuse and taking responsibility for the sourcing of our university's technology.

Please click the link, read through our letter to the CEO of the SUPC, and sign at the end if you want to make an impact and a difference to everything you have read on this website. 

Thank you for helping this cause. 


 

© 2020 Sweatshop Free UEA.

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