The exploitation of women in the electronics industry in the Philippines

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When Jessica first started working in an electronics factory in the Philippines, received no safety training and no information about the health risks involved in her new job. After over a decade of doing soldering work at the factory, she was diagnosed first with a trigger finger. Then, an ovarian cyst. Before she was finally transferred to another unit doing lighter work, she had to undergo various surgical interventions and, ultimately, it was necessary to remove her uterus. Jessica is only one of many women working in electronics factories in the Global South whose health and well-being is traded for the profit of multi-million dollar electronics companies.

920 electronics companies and 261 manufacturing establishments. 

SETEM Catalunya, within the Electronic’s Faire Campaign, presents the investigation “Working conditions in Philippine electronics factories from a gender perspective“, where the working conditions for women workers in electronics factories in the Philippines are brought to light. The report has been prepared with the collaboration of various entities of Philippine’s civil society, which are dedicated to accompany, advise and defend workers, from interviews of their representatives, as well as other workers from different factories in the sector.

 

Gender-based violence in the electronics industry

Most electronics factories in the Philippines are located in the Special Economic Zones, which are governed by rules other than the rest of the country, and facilitate companies to violate women workers’ rights. However, the electronics sector is among the sectors where there is the greatest risk of modern slavery according to the Global Slavery Index of 2023.

Women such as Jessica are forced to work in factories in the electronic sector due to the lack of viable labour alternatives compared to men due to gender inequality, which makes the largest manual labour force in factories fall on women. According to the report, this feminisation of factory work is reinforced by gender patriarchal narratives: many senior officials within this sector consider women to be more docile, less aggressive and less prone to defending their rights than men. For this reason, they prefer them for manual work in assembly chains.

The high demand for work by women is used by employers for their own benefit, imposing poor working conditions for jobs in factories: short-term contracts instead of safe employment, low wages, excessive working hours with minimum or non-existent rest days, or the absence of maternal leave. At the same time, most supervisory posts are assigned to men. Patriarchal narratives and gender stereotypes impose the notion that these functions require perceived qualities as “masculine”, such as assertivity and leadership, and are therefore more suited to men. In addition, in factories there are various health risks, not only because of extensive and repetitive manual work, but also because of the manipulation of toxic chemicals without prior training or adequate safety measures.

In this way, women concentrate on the lowest paid jobs, more intensive in manual and more dangerous work in factories.

 

 

Union repression and persecution of labour rights defenders

The people who lead or join the unions are besieged, persecuted, stigmatised, or even attacked or murdered. The Philippine human rights organization Karapatan has documented 427 extrajudicial executions between July 2016 and December 2021, including several cases affecting workers’ rights defenders. People who oppose exploitative practices of companies, such as labour activists and union leaders or lideresses, face abuse and strong harassment in the Philippines. The practice of “red tagging” (accusing someone to be a communist rebel and to have a relationship with terrorist groups) has led to the very life of activists being threatened and, ultimately, to the murder of workers who have denounced abusive working conditions.

Union busting and persecution of activists do not just occur in the Philippines, but in all countries where electronic devices are assembled, preventing progress on labour rights issues in the electronics sector. As a result, any electronic device we buy has probably been assembled at the cost of forced labour and abuse, specially for women workers.

 

 

The report shows that, in order to improve working conditions for women in the Global South, unions and civil society organisations have to be strengthened and effective policy action needs to be taken. Only if companies are held accountable for the well-being of all workers throughout the supply chain can the electronics industry become fair and ethical.

Analysis of the adopted Directive on Common Rules Promoting the Repair of Goods

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EU campaigning pays off with promising new repair rules, but we need many more products to be covered

After years of intense campaigning by right to repair advocates, EU lawmakers have finally agreed upon new repair rules (1). The Right to Repair Europe coalition, representing more than 140 organisations in 24 European countries, celebrates that the new law will pave the way for better access to affordable repairs for selected products. There are finally rules on reasonable prices for original parts as well as a ban of software practices which prevent independent repair and the use of compatible and reused spare parts. This is a step in the right direction for affordable repair.

However, with the adoption of the law, a major chance is being missed to create a truly fair repair market in Europe and to ensure affordable repair solutions for the majority of products on the European market. The scope of products covered remains very narrow and many loopholes were introduced. A swift implementation of the rules is needed, including Commission guidelines on the definition of “reasonable” prices for spare parts, a solid execution of the ban on anti-repair practices and the introduction of national financial incentives for repair by EU Member States.

EU countries will have two years to incorporate this directive into their national legislation. It is vital that the next EU Commission (post-EU elections in June 2024) continue working on legal acts setting repairability requirements (2) for additional product categories to swiftly expand the scope of these new repair rules.

 

  1. Better access to repair for a selection of products

The new rules will be set to improve European consumers’ access to repair for a selection of products. The scope is limited to goods purchased by consumers and to products already covered by repairability requirements under EU law. The scope will automatically be expanded by the European Commission within 12 months after the adoption of any new legal acts setting repairability requirements.

Producers will for the first time be required to offer repair options beyond the legal guarantee period of two years, for a duration of up to 10 years. These repairs will need to be carried out for free or against a “reasonable price”. Consumers may be offered a replacement product during the repair period. Parts and tools also need to be sold to independent repairers “at a reasonable price that does not deter repair”. However, the rules do not provide any indication of what a “reasonable” part price actually means. It will be crucial for the repair movement to take manufacturers that sell spare parts at unreasonably high prices to court.

Another important feature of the law is the ban on “contractual clauses, hardware or software techniques that impede the repair” for the products in scope. Right to Repair worked persistently to bring these unfair practices to the policymakers’ attention. However, it remains to be seen to what extent loopholes will persist, as the text adds an exemption to the ban that leaves the door open for manufacturers to continue enacting anti-repair practices by stating it is “legitimate” under the law. Regrettably, the law also fails to offer broader access to more repair information and more spare parts.

  1. Improved attractivity of repair under the legal guarantee

To improve the attractivity of repair, the guarantee will be extended by 12 months if consumers opt for repair. This will result in a total of 3-year legal guarantee coverage in most EU countries, while there is no extension if consumers opt for replacement.

  1. One step closer to national financial incentives for repair – but we still need to make it happen

EU lawmakers also require Member States to implement at least one national measure promoting repair. They propose a non-binding list (3) of financial and non-financial options such as support to community-led repair initiatives or information campaigns. It will be crucial for the right to repair movement to keep up the momentum via national campaigns and knowledge sharing on successful national initiatives. Based on the data collected so far, it is essential that financial incentives for repair are introduced in all countries.

  1. Online matchmaking platform and European repair form

The EU Commission will introduce a European online platform with the aim to increase the visibility of repair options and transparency for their costs. While it is generally a good idea to increase the visibility of repair services and make it easier for consumers to find suitable service providers, this will only be effective as long as there is an adequate repair infrastructure that is also visible on the platform.

  1. Missed opportunities

Considering the limited scope and ambition, the opportunity was missed to make this initiative into something that would actually merit the title ‘Right to repair directive’. In essence, the regulation’s main effect will be to somewhat increase the chances that the small number of products that already had to be repairable anyway, will actually end up being repaired. It would be very optimistic to expect that these measures will make a dent in the use of resources and the production of e-waste.

The list of missed opportunities is long. For example, Right to Repair had suggested a mandatory priority for repair over replacement under the guarantee along with strengthening the independent repair sector by allowing them to perform repairs under the guarantee. None of this made it through final negotiations.

There are also many ambitious provisions which the Parliament had agreed upon, only for them to be thrown out in favour of the Council’s drastically less ambitious stance during the trialogues. Among them are:

  • The right for the consumer to have a product repaired unless this is factually or legally impossible (with the producer not allowed to refuse the consumer’s request purely due to economic considerations such as the costs)
  • The right to have access to all spare parts and all repair-related information and tools, including diagnosis tools for a period corresponding to at least the expected lifespan of the product
  • The obligation for producers to publish all information related to repair on their websites
  • The possibility for legislators to add products to the list even if not covered by Ecodesign or other requirements

It is regrettable that in the end, the voice of our democratically elected representatives did not prevail. The Right to Repair Coalition will continue to push for ambitious repairability requirements for as many additional product categories as possible, as well as working with members focused on the implementation of the directive in each member state, to ensure that this and other pieces of legislation actually make a difference for European consumers and for the prevention of e-waste.

 

The original article was published by Right to Repair Europe. This is an abridged version.

 

Contact

Cristina Ganapini

Coordinator of Right to Repair Europe

Email: info@repair.eu

 

Notes

(1) legal text of the directive

(2) EU lawmakers also agreed on a new EU Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR). This framework regulation will enable the EU Commission to set minimum repairability requirements for further product categories. Our coalition managed to put energy-related products, ICT products and other electronics as part of their next priorities.

(3) Member States’ measures promoting repair can include information campaigns, support to community-led repair initiatives, repair vouchers, repair funds, supporting or creating local or regional repair platforms, organising or financing training programs to acquire special skills in repair and taxation measures. These measures can be taken at a national, regional or local level.

 

Women in artisanal mining: the hidden origins of our devices

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In our everyday lives, we are constantly surrounded by electronic devices, the presence of which is becoming more and more normalized to us. Yet, we rarely think of the materials which were used to make them. Raw materials such as cobalt and copper are required to produce electronic devices – and with more devices being produced and consumed every day, the demand for such materials, which are mined in resource-rich regions, only increases.

The first image that comes to mind in the context of mining is usually a large industrial site full of heavy machinery. However, almost 90% of the world’s mining workforce do not work in such large-scale industrial mines, but rather in what is called artisanal mining (ASM) – small-scale extraction of resources using rudimentary tools and basic equipment. Artisanal mining usually takes place in informal and often illegal settings in countries of the Global South, where settlements are rapidly established around mining sites. ASM is especially attractive to the rural poor of those regions, to whom it offers a rare opportunity of comparably well-paid employment.

There are, however, various issues surrounding ASM. Due to the informal nature of the work, working conditions are poor and dangerous, environmental pollution is rampant and toxic substances used in processing ore pose a serious health risk.

Women in the ASM sector face even more severe difficulties – and yet, many women are compelled to work in artisanal mining, since viable employment opportunities for women tend to be scarce, especially for those who are socially stigmatised, such as single mothers. Thus, as the scale of mining decreases, the role of women becomes more important. Around the world, women are involved in small scale mining as processors, panners and ore carriers, but also as providers of services within the mining community such as cooking, cleaning and domestic duties.

Most women in ASM earn only a fraction of what men are making. In combination with the unequal distribution of care work, this results in women having to work up to 8 hours more per day than men. Despite this, profits from artisanal mining almost always go to men, as most of the land, the shops and the tools are owned by men.

In addition, the combination of processing work and domestic duties exacerbates dangers to health caused by toxic substances. For example, in places where mercury is used to extract gold from ore, many women perform this task in their own home. Exposure to mercury is especially dangerous to pregnant women, since it increases the danger of miscarriages.

Another major issue is forced prostitution. In many cases, promises of money and well-paid work are used to lure young women to mining settlements and subsequently force them into prostitution. Additionally, since most mining settlements are outside the control of the law, there is also a high risk of sexual violence and drug abuse.

At the same time, the presence of women is essential for community stability and morale. Since women are in charge of domestic duties and provide many essential services within the communities, they are vital to the functioning of all mining settlements. Despite this, in most countries where ASM takes place, there is no special protection for women, legislative or otherwise. Policies concerning ASM and those who work as artisanal miners continue to be gender blind, as do many development initiatives, leaving women vulnerable to danger and oppression. Responsibility for women’s safety is thus relegated to NGOs, mining cooperatives and civil society organisations.

Still, the solution is not to prohibit ASM, which would push artisanal miners into illegality and insecurity and deprive poor regions of an important source of income. Instead, it has to be better regulated to guarantee the safety of workers, and workers have to be organized. There are already successful cases of women workers coming together in cooperatives to demand better safety equipment and better pay. To improve the situation and bolster the agency of women in artisanal mining, such organisations have to be strengthened and the networks between cooperatives, NGOs and civil society organisations have to be expanded. Just as importantly, gender mainstreaming needs to be incorporated into all relevant policy frameworks and development initiatives, both in the Global South and in the Global North, where most companies profiting from exploitation of women in ASM are based.

Within the context of the Electrònica Justa campaign, SETEM Catalunya is working towards achieving those goals by pushing for responsible public procurement and stricter due diligence laws, by raising awareness about the conditions faced by women in ASM and by working together with other initiatives and organisations advocating for fair working conditions in the mining sector. To end exploitation, technology companies need to be held accountable – and a different vision of digitalisation needs to be built, centred not on profit and consumption, but on the well-being of human beings.

 

Sources:

LandLinks: Gender Issues in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector, 2020, https://www.land-links.org/issue-brief/gender-issues-in-the-artisanal-and-small-scale-mining-sector/

Bester, Vidette: Breaking gender stereotypes. The role of women in artisanal mining, SLR Consulting 2023, https://www.slrconsulting.com/insights/breaking-gender-stereotypes-the-role-of-women-in-artisanal-mining/

Eftimie, Adriana; Heller, Katherine et al.: Gender Dimensions of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining. A Rapid Assessment Toolkit, World Bank 2012, https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/644761468157780524/gender-dimensions-of-artisanal-and-small-scale-mining-a-rapid-assessment-toolkit

Hinton, Jennifer; Veiga, Marcello et al.: Women and Artisanal Mining. Gender Roles and the Road Ahead, in: The Socio-Economic Impacts of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in Developing Countries, Swets Publishers 2003, https://prod-edxapp.edx-cdn.org/assets/courseware/v1/6913dd84795c217cc1c8c05358d8e782/asset-v1:SDGAcademyX+NR001+2T2019+type@asset+block/Women_and_artisanal_mining_-_gender_roles_and_the_road_ahead.pdf

Image source:

Laura Lartigue, Technical Writing Specialist for USAID/Guinea, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Guinea_Siguiri_miner_woman.jpg

The Mobile Social Congress concludes: an essential space to expose human and environmental rights violations in the technology industry

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  • The MSC, organised by SETEM Catalunya, brought together specialists from all over the world to reflect on the future of digitalisation, faced with the growing importance of information technologies
  • Likewise, human rights abuses behind mining and electronics industry supply chains were also highlighted

The Mobile Social Congress (MSC), which was held the same week as the Mobile World Congress, has established itself as an essential space for raising awareness about the impacts of the technology industry. SETEM Catalunya has been organising the event since 2016.

The MSC, which took place from 27 February to 2 March in Barcelona, celebrated its ninth edition with the slogan “High tech, low rights: what is the real cost of the technology we consume?”, emphasising the social and environmental costs involved in the production of electronics and increasing digitalisation. All the links in the supply chain were analysed at MSC, from the extraction of minerals and raw materials necessary for the production of electronics to the use of devices and the point when these, after very little use, become waste. Another focus were the effects of digitalisation on mental health.

The first action, which was not part of the official programme, was a performance at the gates of the MWC on Monday 26 February, titled “The mine at home”. It showed how the effects of the extraction of raw materials, traditionally outsourced to countries in the global South, are worsening and continually affecting more countries.

On Tuesday 27th, the congress kicked off with one of the new features of this year’s edition, the live broadcast of an episode of the podcast “Carne Cruda” in the Paral·lel 62 venue. Experts on different links in the chain of production and consumption of digital technology participated and discussed their respective effects, with special emphasis being placed on the issues arising from electronic waste, on the right to repair as well as social and legislative initiatives for the prevention of such waste.

The impact of lithium extraction on indigenous territories

The programme continued on Thursday 29th with the screening of the documentary “Antes del litio” (Before the Lithium), by Costa Rica Producciones, produced with the support of the Ajuntament de Barcelona (Barcelona City Council) and the Observatorio Plurinacional de Salares Andinos (Plurinational Observatory of Andean Salt Flats). The documentary shows how, currently, in the north of Argentina, there are several ongoing mining projects aiming for the extraction of lithium in local salt flats and mountains, which are inhabited by communities resisting the onslaught of companies and governments that want to exploit these areas without their consent.

Laura Fontana from Alternativa Intercanvi amb Pobles Indígenes, discussed the issue with moderator and journalist Marta Molina, who recognised that the key alternative is degrowth. “What we have to change is our perspective, to transform the parameters of consumption”, she said, bearing in mind that “the harm caused in indigenous territories is alarming”, and that “we must put pressure on the administrations so that they incorporate this perspective into their decisions”.

Human rights abuses in cobalt mining

This was followed by the presentation of the book Cobalt Red, in which writer and activist Siddharth Kara reveals the human rights abuses behind cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Accompanied again by Marta Molina, Kara said, “I travelled several times to the Democratic Republic of Congo to document what is happening in these cobalt supply mines: what I saw is the apocalypse. Hundreds of people, including children, in subhuman conditions. Scavenging with their hands to get cobalt as quickly as possible. Three quarters of the cobalt supply comes from the Congo, mined under terrible conditions. It’s not only a violation of their human rights, but also of their environment”.

The activist explained that when we buy an electrical appliance, we don’t think about it being linked to the deaths of children in Congo, but that this is the reality imposed by technology companies, who do not take responsibility for what is happening in their supply chains. “The companies at the top of these chains that cause catastrophes in the Global South have to ensure equal dignity: the people at the bottom of the chain deserve the same dignity and the same rights as the workers at the headquarters of these tech companies,” added Kara.

Monitoring of factories in China

To reflect on the human rights violations hidden in the supply chains of the electronics industry and on the working conditions under which people work in electronics factories, Dimitri Kessler of the Economic Rights Institute spoke about factory monitoring in China. He identified a punitive work environment, designed to  prevent production from slowing down, but said that “if we hold companies accountable for their actions, their behaviour will change”. He also explained the obstacles and difficulties encountered by entities trying to monitor and engage with factories in China, a country marked by strong government repression.

Digital Justice

Thursday’s session closed with a round table on digital justice. Electronics and especially information technology have become increasingly important in recent years. In this ninth edition of the MSC, SETEM Catalunya reflects on what kind of future we want: do we have to accept digitalisation at any price?

The round table featured Leandro Navarro, from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, giving a talk on identity and verifiable credentials for global justice; Cori Crider, from Foxglove, who talked about how to deal with the tech giants. Finally, Sofia Trejo, from the Barcelona Supercomuting Center, delved into the world of artificial intelligence, making the connection to social and environmental justice.

Navarro said that, since machines and tools reproduce who we are, “how can they not be racist or sexist if we are? We can’t remove it surgically”.

Crider, for her part, explained that a third of the humanity connects to platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Instagram everyday, but that “without the work of content moderators, social networks would be full of terrorism, paedophilia and other toxic content. The networks would be much worse, they would be a terrible space. We wouldn’t let teenagers anywhere near them, and companies wouldn’t want to advertise anything. All the profit for the companies would evaporate. Yet big tech companies are not guaranteeing the moderator’s labour rights.”

Trejo added that artificial intelligence predictions are not automatically scientific, objective or true. “In reality, these systems reproduce and amplify historical patterns. The groups most affected are those that have been historically discriminated against: in particular women and minorities. What we are doing is generating potential forms of violence and discrimination on a large scale”.

Childhood and Screens

The MSC closed on Saturday 2nd March with a conference on Childhood and Screens, in which Mercè Botella, from Som Connexió, presented the “Guide for Cruel and Wicked Families”, in which she explains how to introduce the first mobile phone and how to accompany the experience, what is the best age to do so, and why: “In the guide I speak from my personal experience with my daughters; this is more than 10 years ago, and back nobody talked about this subject”. Xavier Casanovas, from the “Plataforma Adolescència Lliure de Mòbil”, spoke about how this movement of families, which is now present throughout Spain, began to organise and what its objectives are, and talked about the use of mobile phones in schools and why it should be regulated: “Society has been waiting for a movement like this to emerge; we do not need scientific evidence on how mobile phone use affects the development of children and adolescents, intuition already makes us see that something is not working (…) we want to delay the use of mobile phones in schools (…) many functions can be covered with a cell phone that is not smart. The writer Sergi Onorato presented the Digital Fasting Guide, and also explained the reasons why it is important that we rethink the relationship we as adults have with our cell phones: “we have to consider the productivist model promoted by capitalism in which we have to be doing things all the time; maybe you shouldn’t listen to a podcast while you are cooking; we need to recover the moments in which we have space to think and create for ourselves”.

Beyond MSC

The Mobile Social Congress is part of SETEM Catalunya’s fair electronics campaign – with the support of the Ajuntament de Barcelona and the Agència Catalana de Cooperació al Desenvolupament (Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation) – which is why the organisation has insisted on the need to further promote spaces for encounters, raising awareness and collective training beyond the MSC. Throughout the year the organisation offers workshops and training on these topics for children and young people. It also publishes and disseminates research and reports on the impact of the technology sector. Another one of SETEM Catalunya’s challenges is to influence public administrations to adopt Socially Responsible Public Procurement criteria and to hold transnational companies accountable in their respect for human rights.

 

Download photos here.

 

More information and interview management:

Sara Blázquez | 679 86 45 18 | sara@diesdagost.cat

Josep Comajoan | 699 18 05 46 | josep@diesdagost.cat

 

New EU law sets to make repair more affordable for selected products, campaigners push for widespread right to repair

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The Right to Repair Europe coalition, representing more than 130 organisations, celebrates that European consumers will get better access to affordable repairs for selected products, but urges for more wide ranging rules.

On Thursday, EU lawmakers reached a deal on new repair rules. In a leap forward, the new law supports independent repair and improves consumers’ access to affordable repair options, by introducing rules for reasonable prices for original parts as well as banning software practices which prevent independent repair and the use of compatible and reused spare parts. Campaigners applaud this as a step in the right direction for affordable repair.

However, this rule is only applicable to products for which the EU legislation lays down reparability requirements [2]. For these few product categories, producers will for the first time be obliged to offer repair options beyond the legal guarantee period of two years. Right to Repair Europe demands a broader right to repair legislation covering more product categories during the next mandate. Regrettably, the current law also fails to offer broader access to more repair information and more spare parts, and to prioritise repair within the legal guarantee framework.

The EU Commission will introduce a European online platform listing repair and buyback solutions in Member States and harmonised quote/estimations, which will increase the visibility of repair options and transparency for their costs. EU lawmakers also encourage Member States to introduce repair funds and vouchers, which have proven successful as a viable strategy to improve repair affordability. Furthermore, small steps were taken to make repair under guarantee more attractive.

Smaller wins with smaller impacts

The new law mandates sellers to propose repairs if products fail during the legal guarantee period, accompanied by a one-year extension of the guarantee after repair. While positively received, the incentive might still be perceived as inferior next to the offer of replacements. We would have preferred a requirement to repair products within the legal guarantee to reduce unnecessary waste.

The EU Commission will establish an online platform helping consumers locate nearby repair options, amplifying repair visibility.

Upon consumer’s request, repairers may choose to submit a harmonised repair quote/estimation called the “European Repair Information Form”, including binding information such as the type or repair suggested and its price or, if the precise cost cannot be calculated, the applicable calculation method and maximum price of repair.

Right to Repair Europe will follow-up with a more detailed analysis of the measures once we have access to the legal text approved.

Cristina Ganapini, Coordinator of the Right to Repair Europe coalition, said: “The promising steps towards affordable repairs are a victory for our coalition representing the future of the European repair economy. This is not without thanks to the EU Parliament, particularly MEP René Repasi’s tireless efforts against pushbacks. The next EU Commission must pick up the baton and keep working on ecodesign to secure repairability rules for more products, while national governments must introduce repair funds.”

Marie Castelli, Head of Public affairs of Back Market, said :

“Putting an end to manufacturers’ techniques preventing independent repair and refurbishment is a huge step forward in the building of a more circular economy in the EU. By opening the after sales markets on the products covered, this text will allow consumers to access quality affordable repair. We now need to extend this freedom to repair to as many products as possible. We count on the next mandate to have an ambitious ecodesign work plan on electronics, which is the fastest growing waste stream”.

Mathieu Rama, Senior Programme Manager at ECOS,  said:

“The blight of e-waste must be stopped, so every step towards easily repairable electronic products is a win for the environment. With more reasonable spare parts prices and improved access to independent repair, we are heading in the right direction – but this directive is not enough. It covers only a small group of products – many more must still be brought under the ecodesign umbrella before we can really speak about a universal right to repair.”

[2] The product groups currently covered by repairability requirements under ecodesign: smartphones and tablets, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, fridges, displays, welding equipment, servers and soon vacuum cleaners.

 

About Right to Repair Europe coalition:

The Right to Repair Europe campaign is a coalition of European organisations pushing for system change around repair. It consists of over 130 members in 23 countries, including NGOs, repair businesses, repair networks, and repairers themselves.

Contact
Cristina Ganapini
Coordinator of Right to Repair Europe

Mail: info@repair.eu

Phone: +39 3713519473

 

As the Mobile World Congress is held in Barcelona, the Mobile Social Congress will reflect on the future of the technology industry

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The MSC, which will take place from February 26 to March 2, will kick off with an artivism action at the gates of the MWC and throughout the week will host panel discussions, talks, family games and a live podcast.

The Mobile Social Congress (MSC), held in Barcelona at the same time as the Mobile World Congress (MWC), will emphasize the real costs of the technology we consume, especially the social and environmental costs currently caused by the production of phones and tablets. The MSC will begin February 26th at the gates of the Fira de Barcelona with an artivism action aimed at raising awareness about the effects of the technology industry not addressed at the MWC.

With this same objective, a live episode of the podcast Carne Cruda will be held on February 27 at Paral·lel 62, on the 29th there will be live and online panel discussions in the Auditorium of the Espacio Calabria 66, and on Saturday March 2 a talk and children’s games for the whole family will take place in the courtyard of the Aigües School.

The MSC is a space open to citizens, which offers a critical look at the current model of production and consumption of electronic devices and information and communication technologies, as well as an opportunity to learn about alternative models and projects based on technological sovereignty, sustainability and respect for human rights.

The electronics industry is one of the most dynamic and important sectors of the world economy and Barcelona becomes its main showcase every year with the Mobile World Congress, where transnational companies in the sector present their technological advances. At the same time, it is also necessary to draw attention to the social and environmental costs currently involved in the production of new phones and tablets.

The Mobile Social Congress was created as an alternative space to the Mobile World Congress, the objective of which is to promote reflection and awareness about the impacts caused by the production and consumption of electronics, as well as engaging in critical analysis from the points of view of ecology, feminism and human rights. At the Mobile Social Congress, the goal is to denounce the injustices of a model of global production and consumption based on extractivism and the externalization of social and environmental impacts in the Global South; to highlight projects and initiatives that propose new ways to produce and consume electronic devices, respecting the rights of people and the environment and making responsible use of resources, in order to last until future generations without violating the fundamental rights of other peoples and territories.

What scenarios of the future can be proposed in the face of this growing digitalization?

This year, industry impacts in different areas will be addressed  and there will also be a reflection on what future we want: do we have to accept digitalization at any price? What alternatives can we propose?

Electronics and in particular information technologies have gained increasing prominence in recent years. However, what do we know about how this technology is produced, what future scenarios are emerging in the face of this growing digitalization, and what challenges are posed from a human rights and environmental perspective? These and other questions will be addressed, bringing together different voices to provide a critical outlook, in order to be able to take an active role as citizens in choosing policies and consumption options that contribute to a more sustainable, healthier and fairer world.

 

Fatal accident at a nickel mine in Morowali, Indonesia

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On the afternoon of 24 December 2023, a fire broke out in the nickel smelter PT ITSS (Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel), one of the companies in the PT IMIP (Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park) area. So far, the death toll is 19, plus 32 workers who have been seriously injured and are currently being treated in hospital.

The Fair Electronics Campaign denounces the facts and the lack of measures to ensure health and safety at the mine by PT ITSS, as well as the complicity of the Indonesian government with extractive companies, which is not properly monitoring the implementation of the law on health and safety in the country, nor is it being transparent with the investigation processes of incidents like these, which continue to occur at the mine since the start of this project. Twenty incidents have been recorded up to December 2023.

We also denounce a transition model based on growth, the continued extraction of raw materials and the establishment of ‘sacrifice zones’ that does not take into account the damage caused to people and territories.

The Morowali nickel mine and smelter are part of President Jokowi’s National Strategic Project, and is projected as an industry that supports the energy transition. Nickel is one of the raw materials considered critical by the EU for the ecological transition, as it is a key mineral for the manufacture of electric batteries for electric vehicles.

We express our condolences to the families of the victims and our support for the statement and demands issued by the Indonesian Centre for Labour Struggle (Gabungan Serikat Buruh Indonesia – GSBI), a fellow member of the Good Electronics network.

The demands are:

  1. PT ITSS – IMIP and the Government of Indonesia must take full responsibility for the recovery of all victims of the PT ITSS Nickel smelter furnace explosion, and provide adequate compensation as well as livelihood guarantees, and education for the children of victims who died. As well as the certainty of getting a job for the future of the children of the victims who die
  2. Immediately form an Independent Investigation Team involving elements of Trade Union Organizations, NGOs, Komnas HAM, and ILO to ensure the results of the investigation into the deadly work accident tragedy at PT ITSS get objective results.
  3. Stop the intimidation carried out by PT ITSS against workers who want to report or provide information freely on the working conditions that caused the tragedy of 19 workers dead and dozens of workers moderately-heavily injured due to the Deadly Tragedy of Work Accidents at PT ITSS – Morowali.
  4. Guarantee and Respect the basic rights of workers, including the right to freedom of expression, the right to organize, including the right to strike! All of this is guaranteed by Indonesian legislation and also the ILO Convention.
  5. Fully implement and enforce the OHS system in the workplace and ensure the availability of complete and appropriate PPE in accordance with the law.
  6. Impose strict sanctions against OHS violations that are alleged to have become a long-standing practice of PT ITSS.
  7. We demand, stop claiming the nickel downstream project is a clean energy transition project. And we also demand that the Climate Crisis and a just energy transition be resolved fundamentally. Namely, changing the agricultural production system as a whole which requires the elimination of the monopoly power of landlords over rural farmers, and build of national industrialization that serves the advancement of agricultural production systems and increased agricultural productivity for food security and the opening of the widest possible employment opportunities free from foreign investment intervention.

READ GSBI COMPLET STATEMENT IN ENGLISH HERE

Open Letter to the European Union: The Critical Raw Materials Act Must Ensure Effective Social, Environmental and Governance Safeguards and Provide Meaningful Participation

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Dear Commissioners,
Dear Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Dear Ministers,

We, movements, Indigenous Peoples, and Civil Society Organizations, particularly but not exclusively from resource-rich countries in the Global South, are very concerned due to the lack of strong due diligence terminology and safeguards for the sourcing of raw materials in the Critical Raw Materials Act and other related legislation.

We, in resource-rich countries, are already experiencing the double impacts of the climate crisis, on one hand via the effects of climate change itself and on the other hand from the increase in mining and renewable technologies infrastructure resulting from decarbonisation plans of rich countries. The EU’s decarbonisation ambition is laudable, but to be just and fair, it has to follow the rule of law and its associated legislations have to adhere to the highest standards, including the respect of human
rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and environmental protection, not only within the European Union, but in other resource-rich countries – including our lands and communities.

The Critical Raw Materials Act and other related legislation, such as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, among others, will have a direct impact on our health and well-being, cultural practices, traditions and values, livelihoods, and environment. People are regularly killed attempting to safeguard the environment we rely on.

For this reason, we ask you to take a human rights-based approach to decarbonisation and ensure that all rights holders and stakeholders in resource-rich countries, not only governments and the private sector, are involved in the process in a full and meaningful way. More specifically, we ask you to set the following minimum conditions for strategic projects and the sourcing of raw materials from resource-rich countries:

1) Respect human rights, Indigenous rights and adhere to international human and environmental rights legislation, agreements, and standards, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Conventions as well as the full Aarhus convention, the Escazú agreement as well as the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. The CRMA should ensure that companies adhere to strict mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence.

2) Ensure that strategic partnerships are formed and run in a democratic manner
Negotiations for strategic partnerships should be announced in a timely fashion and agreements with resource-rich countries should be disclosed prior to approval. The CRMA should address the high corruption risk in the mining sector.

3) Meaningful participation and accountability
Rights holders, especially Indigenous Peoples, civil society organisations and local communities, must have a stake in the governance of the CRMA and should be able to participate in the definition and monitoring of strategic projects and partnerships.

4) Minimum requirements for strategic projects
The environmental and social impacts of mining and other projects related to the energy transition should be assessed during the permitting process and projects cannot go ahead without concerned Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior Informed Consent.

Companies participating in strategic projects should have in place a clear, easily accessible, and safe grievance mechanism and a history of human rights abuses or environmental destruction should lead to the exclusion of companies. There should be a mechanism to facilitate access to justice for victims of corporate abuse and strict
sanctions for companies that fail their due diligence obligations. Instead of using self-regulation through certification schemes, companies must be monitored by governments and a neutral third party.

5) Respect our cultural practices, traditions and values, our lifestyles, and our environment
Strategic projects should respect no-go zones, including protected areas, the deep-sea, and sacred sites. Regulations on conflict minerals and minerals extracted through forced or child labour must be enforced and adopted respectively.

6) We should not just be treated as raw material suppliers
Set clear goals and clarify what it means to add value through strategic partnerships. Furthermore, support the development of our countries through climate finance, knowledge and technology transfer, the provision for local procurement and ensuring that companies pay taxes in host countries and create decent jobs.

7) Take responsibility for reducing the EU’s own consumption
In turn, this will reduce the demand for raw materials from our countries. Taking these concerns into account will be crucial to ensure climate and resource justice on a global scale. The CRMA could be an opportunity for the European Union to promote a just energy transition that pays off the historical ecological debt owed to the countries of the Global South and respects their
development models.

We urge you to take these recommendations into consideration, as the policy decisions regarding the Critical Raw Materials Act will have a large impact on our lives.

Sincerely,

Signatories:

– AbibiNsroma Foundation
– Action Mines Guinée
– African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)
– Aksi Ekologi & Emansipasi Rakyat (AEER), Indonesia
– Alliance Voahary Gasy (AVG)
– alterNativa Intercanvi amb Pobles Indígenes
– Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
– Asia Dalit Rights Forum (ADRF)
– Bench Marks Foundation
– Cadre de Concertation de la société civile de l’Ituri sur les Ressources Naturelles
– CartoCrítica (México)
– Centre congolais pour le droit du développement durable (CODED)
– Centro de Análisis Socioambiental (CASA}, Chile
– Christi – Perú
– Coalition des Organisations de la Société Civile pour le Suivi des Réformes et de l’Action Publique
(CORAP)
– Coalition Nationale de Plaidoyer Environnemental (CNPE)
– Coalition Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez-Mali (PCQVP-MALI)
– Comité Nacional pro Defensa de la Fauna y Flora
– CooperAcción
– Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC)
– Corporate Europe Observatory
– Crudo Transparente
– Cultural Survival
– Debt Observatory in Globalisation (ODG)
– Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
– Ecosistemas
– Engenera, A.C.
– Enginyeria sense Fronteres
– Focus Association for Sustainable Development
– Forest Peoples Programme
– Forests of the World
– Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo – TI Ecuador
– Fundación Foro Nacional por Colombia – Capítulo Suroccidente
– Fundación Terram
– Funprosperiti Guatecivica
– Future-Prenuers Zambia (FPSZ)
– Global Witness
– Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana
– Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ)
– Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense -AIDA
– Lafede.cat – Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global
– Legisladores x el Ambiente ALC
– Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)
– Observatoire d’Etudes et d’Appui à la Responsabilité Sociale et Environnementale (OEARSE)
– Observatorio Petrolero Sur
– Pakistan Development Alliance
– Perkumpulan HuMa Indonesia
– Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
– Pole Institute (DR Congo)
– Policy Forum Guyana
– Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez Madagascar
– Publish What You Pay Zambia
– Red de Información y Acción Ambiental de Veracruz, México
– Réseau panafricain de lutte contre la corruption “UNIS”
– Resource Matters
– Satya Bumi
– Securing Indigenous Peoples Rights in the Green Economy (SIRGE) Coalition
– SETEM Catalunya
– Solidaritat Castelldefels Kasando
– Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
– Spaces for Change
– TAFOMIHAAVO
– Transparency International Initiative Madagascar
– Transparency International Zambia
– Trend Asia
– Universidad nacional de Colombia, Facultad de minas Medellín, Centro de pensamiento responsabilidad y sostenibilidad minera

A Turning Point: The Critical Raw Materials Act’s needs to be truly socially and environmentally just

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We support the position promoted by more than 40 civil society organisations, to demand that the Critical First Raw Material Act have a fair social and green transition.

The 21st century demands global efforts to address the multiple social and environmental crises that we are facing, which also negatively impacts the economy. Solutions exist, but demand political will (such as product ecodesign legislation or singular use product bans), and a political discourse to develop new tools (such as energy production limits) for transformative, equitable change that brings humanity comfortably back within planetary boundaries. 

Most of the converging social and environmental crises we are facing are a result of the over-consumption of resources. This is driven by unsustainable production and consumption patterns in increasingly unequal societies, regardless of the level of development of any given country.

We present this Position Paper, by more than 40 civil society organisations, which delves into the main issues that arise within this context in regard to the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) and provides key recommendations.

  1. The EU should actively reduce its dependence on primary raw materials and implement demand-side solutions to decrease critical raw materials consumption by at least 10% by 2030, including phasing out single-use products containing critical raw materials, implementing a material passport system, and adopting national programs to promote material efficiency and the use of alternative materials.
  2. The CRMA should not rely solely on certification schemes, as certification alone does not guarantee compliance with mandatory human rights and environmental regulations; instead, a broader assessment of human rights and environmental performance should be conducted. If certification schemes are used as one tool of many, they have to include certain criteria as minimum a multi-stakeholder governance, adherence to comprehensive standards, disclosure rules, accessible grievance mechanisms, and public audit reports.
  3. The CRMA’s focus on EU supply security through partnerships lacks a global justice approach. Including concrete measures to ensure sustainability standards, civil society participation, and the protection of human rights and the environment in third countries. Our recommendations include aligning partnerships with international agreements, implementing robust monitoring and remediation mechanisms, defining “value addition,” supporting domestic industrialisation, involving civil society and Indigenous Peoples, ensuring transparency, and avoiding the undermining of commitments through other regulations or trade agreements.
  4. The CRMA’s focus on accelerating permitting procedures for Strategic Projects risks bypassing environmental and social safeguards and lacks public buy-in. Streamlined permitting must not come at the cost of environmental protection, meaningful public participation. Incorporating elements like Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) and Indigenous rights must be at the center of strategic projects. Additionally, resources to licensing authorities have to be allocated, international agreements referenced, transparency ensured and a subgroup on sustainability and responsible mining within the European Critical Raw Materials Board established. Deep-sea mining due to potential environmental and social impacts has to be prohibited.
  5. For the success of the European Green Deal and the EU’s strategic autonomy, it is crucial to prioritise a circular economy approach in the CRMA. This includes implementing an ambitious recycling strategy, enhancing coherence with the waste hierarchy, increasing EU recycling capacity targets, improving collection and separation of critical raw materials (CRM)-containing components, proposing recycled content targets for all CRM-containing products, incorporating measures for public procurement, and ensuring that the recovery of mining waste follows comprehensive regulations and includes plans for remediation of historical pollution.
  6. The CRMA should include comprehensive rules for calculating and verifying the environmental footprint of critical raw materials. This requires clear criteria for determining a significant environmental footprint, taking into account the impact on circularity and recycling, international standards, and sustainable practices, conducting prior assessments and consultations with relevant stakeholders, allowing the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change to provide scientific advice, ensuring environmental footprint declarations for all critical raw materials placed on the market, including intermediate and final products, and the adoption of delegated acts to establish environmental footprint performance classes with specific parameters.

Read the position paper..

The highest volum of imported products at-risk of modern slavery worldwide were electronics during 2021, according to the ‘Global Slavery Index 2023’

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US$468 billion of G20 nations imports are goods at risk of modern slavery, as the electronics plays a major role.

Modern slavery takes many forms and is known by many names: forced labour, forced or serville marriage, forced commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploition of children. In all its forms, we’re talking about “the systematic elimination of people’s freedom”, where they cannot reject situations of exploitation for threats, direct violence, coercion or deception. This is defined by the Global Slavery Index 2023 report by Walk Free, which estimates that 50 million people have lived in modern slavery worldwide during 2021 – 10 million more people compared to the figures published in 2018 –. The study has been carried out with data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Walk Free and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which reveals 1 in 4 are children, while 54% are women.

A deeply related practise with the G20 nations consumer culture

There are diferents causes for this practice, as the report points out, but G20 nations’ consumer culture is closely related. The data indicate that although the greatest prevalence of forced labour is in countries with the lowest income, these are related to the demand of higher income countries. In this regard, the report highlights the role played by the G20 nations, as almost two thirds of all cases of forced labour relate to global supply chains, that is to say, in the extraction of raw materials and at production stages.

Electronics markets with the most products at risk of forced labour

G20 nations import US$468 billion of at-risk products annually, as the electronics sector plays a major role.The top five highest value at-risk products imported by the G20 were electronics (US$243.6 billion), followed by germents (US$147.9 billion), palm oil (US$19.7 billion), solar panels (US$14.8 billion), and textile (US$12.7 billion).

The study also points out that electronic products imported by the G20 countries from China and Malaysia remain at the highest risk, also recording in Malaysia cases of forced labour of migrant workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Recommendations

The report calls on governments around the world to immediately take the following five key actions:

– Implement stronger measures to combat forced labour in public and private supply chains by introducing legislation to stop governments and businesses from sourcing goods or services linked to modern slavery.
– Embed anti-slavery measures in humanitarian and crisis responses, and ensure that human rights are embedded in efforts to build a green economy.
– Prioritise human rights when engaging with repressive regimes, by conducting due diligence to ensure that any trade, business, or investment is not contributing to or benefitting from state-imposed forced labour, including where it occurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
– Focus on prevention and protection for vulnerable populations by providing primary and secondary education for all children, including girls.
– Ensure effective civil and criminal protections in legislation to tackle forced and child marriage, including raising the age of marriage to 18 for girls and boys, with no exceptions.

Visit the complete report.