Saturday, March 19, 2011

Electronic Industry Code of Conduct - something we can rely on to get justice or is it a 'mere puff'?

Here, again I have extracted the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct, and have highlighted portions relating to worker rights.

Would companies in the supply chain who resort to using workers supplied by some other entity, or attempt to avoid employment relationships by some means, including 'triangular employment relationship' be bound to ensure protection of worker rights, even for those workers supplied by some other 'contractor for labour' or outsourcing agent still be bound by this Code of Conduct? I believe they are bound.

In Malaysia, companies that are bound by this code certainly must pay attention to Clause A(1) as many employers do wrongly hold on the passports of their migrant workers - like a 'lease' to ensure subservience and total control of the freedom of these workers. When confronted with authorities, migrant workers who are not able to produce their original passports very often get harassed, arrested and detained by police and other enforcement officers, and they will have to totally depend on these employers to come with their passports to secure their release.. The Code clearly does not allow this.

Clause A(4) of the Code is also breached when some employers deduct wages by reason of late attendance, and also absence. Not only will workers not get paid for the day that he is absent, but he is further subjected to a deduction which sometimes is more than 2 days wages as a penalty.

So, is this Code real, and can be relied on - or is it just like any other 'advertisement' - a mere puff?

The Electronic Industry Code of Conduct establishes standards to ensure that working conditions in the electronics industry supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that business operations are environmentally responsible


Participants are committed to uphold the human rights of workers, and to treat them with dignity and respect as understood by the international community.

The recognized standards, as set out in the annex, were used as references in preparing the Code and may be a useful source of additional information.

The labor standards are:

1) Freely Chosen Employment
Forced, bonded or indentured labor or involuntary prison labor shall not to be used. All work will be voluntary, and workers shall be free to leave upon reasonable notice. Workers shall not be required to hand over government-issued identification, passports or work permits to the Participant or Labor Agent as a condition of employment.
2) Child Labor Avoidance
Child labor is not to be used in any stage of manufacturing. The term “child” refers to any person under the age of 15 (or 14 where the law of the country permits), or under the age for completing compulsory education, or under the minimum age for employment in the country, whichever is greatest. The use of legitimate workplace apprenticeship programs, which comply with all laws and regulations, is supported. Workers under the age of 18 shall not perform work that is likely to jeopardize the health or safety of young workers.
3) Working Hours
Studies of business practices clearly link worker strain to reduced productivity, increased turnover and increased injury and illness. Workweeks are not to exceed the maximum set by local law. Further, a workweek should not be more than 60 hours per week, including overtime, except in emergency or unusual situations. Workers shall be allowed at least one day off per seven-day week.
4) Wages and Benefits
Compensation paid to workers shall comply with all applicable wage laws, including those relating to minimum wages, overtime hours and legally mandated benefits. In compliance with local laws, workers shall be compensated for overtime at pay rates greater than regular hourly rates. Deductions from wages as a disciplinary measure shall not be permitted. The basis on which workers are being paid is to be provided in a timely manner via pay stub or similar documentation.
5) Humane Treatment
The Participant’s disciplinary policies and procedures shall be clearly defined and communicated to workers. There is to be no harsh and inhumane treatment, including any sexual harassment, sexual abuse, corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse of workers: nor is there to be the threat of any such treatment

6) Non-Discrimination
Participants should be committed to a workforce free of harassment and unlawful discrimination. Companies shall not engage in discrimination based on race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, pregnancy, religion, political affiliation, union membership or marital status in hiring and employment practices such as promotions, rewards, and access to training. In addition, workers or potential workers should not be subjected to medical tests that could be used in a discriminatory way.
7) Freedom of Association
Open communication and direct engagement between workers and management are the most effective ways to resolve workplace and compensation issues. Participants are to respect the rights of workers to associate freely, join or not join labor unions, seek representation, join workers’ councils in accordance with local laws. Workers shall be able to communicate openly with management regarding working conditions without fear of reprisal, intimidation or harassment.

Participants recognize that in addition to minimizing the incidence of work-related injury and illness, a safe and healthy work environment enhances the quality of products and services, consistency of production and worker retention and morale. Participants also recognize that ongoing worker input and education is essential to identifying and solving health and safety issues in the workplace.
Recognized management systems such as OHSAS 18001 and ILO Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health were used as references in preparing the Code and may be a useful source of additional information.
The health and safety standards are:
1) Occupational Safety

Worker exposure to potential safety hazards (e.g., electrical and other energy sources, fire, vehicles, and fall hazards) are to be controlled through proper design, engineering and administrative controls, preventative maintenance and safe work procedures (including lockout/tagout), and ongoing safety training. Where hazards cannot be adequately controlled by these means, workers are to be provided with appropriate, well-maintained, personal protective equipment. Workers shall not be disciplined for raising safety
2) Emergency Preparedness
Emergency situations and events are to be identified and assessed, and their impact minimized by implementing emergency plans and response procedures, including: emergency reporting, employee notification and evacuation procedures, worker training and drills, appropriate fire detection and suppression equipment, adequate exit facilities and recovery plans.
3) Occupational Injury and Illness
Procedures and systems are to be in place to prevent, manage, track and report occupational injury and illness, including provisions to: a) encourage worker reporting; b) classify and record injury and illness cases; c) provide necessary medical treatment; d) investigate cases and implement corrective actions to eliminate their causes; and e) facilitate return of workers to work.
4) Industrial Hygiene
Worker exposure to chemical, biological and physical agents is to be identified, evaluated, and controlled. Engineering or administrative controls must be used to control overexposures. When hazards cannot be adequately controlled by such means, worker health is to be protected by appropriate personal protective equipment programs.
5) Physically Demanding Work
Worker exposure to the hazards of physically demanding tasks, including manual material handling and heavy or repetitive lifting, prolonged standing and highly repetitive or forceful assembly tasks is to be identified, evaluated and controlled.
6) Machine Safeguarding
Production and other machinery is to be evaluated for safety hazards. Physical guards, interlocks and barriers are to be provided and properly maintained where machinery presents an injury hazard to workers.

7) Sanitation, Food, and Housing
Workers are to be provided with ready access to clean toilet facilities, potable water and sanitary food preparation, storage, and eating facilities. Worker dormitories provided by the Participant or a labor agent are to be maintained clean and safe, and provided with appropriate emergency egress, hot water for bathing and showering, and adequate heat and ventilation and reasonable personal space along with reasonable entry and exit privileges.

....D(8) Worker Feedback and Participation
Ongoing processes to assess employees’ understanding of and obtain feedback on practices and conditions covered by this Code and to foster continuous improvement.

CIF      Mineração

Would have good if we had also detailed information about the branch and group companies of each of these brands, and their address? Would be good also if we had some information about the supply chain? A method or mechanisms which members of the public, consumers and workers could easily use to raising complaints with regard to non compliance with the Code would also be good