The electronics industry is currently in the midst of a global boom, with sales projected to hold an upward trajectory, particularly in the rising economies of Asia Pacific. This is creating job opportunities all over the world, but it is also giving rise to a black mark on the supply chain ethics of the electronics industry.
According to recent reports, some recruitment companies have started charging immigrants for jobs in electronics manufacturing facilities. This is leading to situations where the workers are forced to work for up to a year just to pay off the recruitment charges levied by these companies. Migrant workers are particularly targeted by such schemes, and due to their tenuous legal standing, the migrants are forced to accept such debilitating terms in order to procure steady employment.
Such recruitment fees are among the first factors targeted to be eradicated by the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition. The EICC is an electronics trade group including giants of the electronics industry such as Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung. It announced its aim to eradicate forced labor of any kind from the electronic industry in 2015, and recruitment fees are expected to be the first to go.
The Coalition announced a new, updated code of conduct, in which the practice of payments extracted from workers in return for employment is banned with no exceptions. In case such instances are found, the payment will be returned to the workers. Thanks to the significant clout of the large companies in the EICC, this move is being enthusiastically welcomed by advocacy groups.
However, the move could face tough obstacles in the form of outdated regulations that allow recruiters to levy their own charges on workers, and the inherent complexity of global supply chains, which makes monitoring activities extremely difficult.