Computer sweatshops revealed by aid agency
Catholic aid agency CAFOD is using a web animation called A Tale Of Two Cities in its campaign to improve working conditions in computer factories in the developing world.
The web film coincides with the launch of a new report Clean Up Your Computer. The report shows electronic workers in countries like Mexico, Thailand and China suffering harassment, discrimination and intolerable working conditions. The workers are producing parts that end up in the computers of companies such as Hewlett Packard, Dell and IBM.
A Tale of Two Cities contrasts the lives of the people who use computers in the UK with those of the people who make them in Mexico. While computers have revolutionised the way Britain works and lives, electronics workers in developing countries face unsafe factories, with compulsory overtime, wages below the legal minimum, and degrading treatment.
The web animation offers viewers the chance to call on big brand computer companies to take responsibility for workers by introducing and properly implementing codes of conduct based on international standards.
CAFODís Online Communications Manager, Nick Buxton, said, ìA Tale of Two Cities takes you behind the screen that you are watching, and looks at the people who make the computers. Computers have given people in Britain the best of times, but those who make them in Mexico are living the worst of times."
ìAlthough computers can be frustrating when they breakdown, the film shows how much more miserable it is to be in the factories in Mexico that make them."
ìBy using a cutting edge web animation, we hope to attract people who use computers and get them to put the pressure on the big brands. We hope people will email the link onto their friends and with its viral effect increase pressure on the companies from the people that matter to them, the consumer.î
Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Dell have seen the evidence, and CAFOD has welcomed their initial responses to the findings and included them in the report. So far Hewlett Packard has the best track record on labour standards, but all the companies recognise that more must be done.
A Tale of Two Cities can be viewed at www.cafod.org.uk/cleanup