Clean up your computer

Ekklesia reports that electronics workers in Mexico are regularly subjected to denial of labour rights and dignity by companies – practices which needed to be challenged and changed, says a new report from the England and Wales Catholic development agency, CAFOD.

The report from the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, which operates autonnomously but is recognised by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, says workers are exposed to toxic materials.

It also claims that safety rules are ignored, contributing to the alarming incidence of accidents, and it says workers are denied other rights, including being banned from joining trade unions or trade unions being taken over and controlled by companies.

CAFOD’s ‘Clean Up Your Computer’ campaign in 2004 persuaded leading electronics manufacturers like Dell and IBM to sign up to Codes of Conduct aimed at improving conditions for workers across their supply chain.

Interviews were conducted with almost 2,000 workers within the supply chains of electronics companies, including Hitachi, Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Philips, Dell, Motorola, Lenovo and Intel. 236 cases of alleged abuse were documented.

AFOD’s partner in Mexico, CEREAL who wrote the report, found disturbing cases including a woman whose hands were severed by a company machine because of a fault with the machine Other workers described how they were still worried about exposure to toxic materials and requests to switch roles were turned down.

One woman worker died after being hit by a car in the work car park. Her family were asked to withdraw their compensation claim against the transportation company but after CEREAL’s intervention the transportation company relented and have paid compensation to her family.

Electronics equipment is Mexico’s main export and the industry employs 400,000 workers who earning on average 100 pesos (US$ 9.25) a day. The industry was worth US$46 billion in 2006 and Mexico is the tenth largest exporter of electronics equipment in the world.

The report also reveals that some workers were forced to stand during the whole of their twelve hour shifts and requests for chairs were denied. Even a six-month pregnant woman was forced to stand for the whole of a seven hour shift. The report also highlights other bizarre rights abuses including employees being asked in interviews if they had tattoos and another worker described how she was asked about her sex life during an interview.

Read it all here.

Past Posts