8 January 2014 | Will Green
A new organisation has been created to boost labour rights in public sector supply chains.
Electronics Watch (EW) has been formed by seven NGOs across Europe to offer public sector buyers “eyes on the ground” to monitor and improve factory conditions in places such as China and South East Asia.
The organisation has been set up with £1 million of European Commission funding but it will be self-sustaining using a subscription model.
Public sector buyers across Europe will be able to sign up to the service, and EW will have people on the ground to monitor conditions in factories and produce reports and improvement plans.
Already organisations such as University College London and Transport for London have joined as members of an advisory group and the plan is for the service to go live next year.
EW spokesman Jim Cranshaw said: “It's based around using the leverage of public sector buyers over the supply chain, which is often underused because public sector buyers have policies around labour rights but they don’t know whether or not those are being adhered to because they don’t have eyes on the ground. It’s providing the missing link in that chain.”
Cranshaw said the intention was to harness the ICT spending power of the public sector to raise standards in factories.
“Hopefully in time there will be billions of pounds worth of leverage to drive improvement in the industry,” he said.