Dell improves labour code after agency campaign
Market leaders Dell have adopted a new code of conduct for their suppliers following catholic aid agency CAFODís campaign on dire working conditions in computer factories in the developing world.
CAFODís Clean Up Your Computer report issued this January criticised Dell, Hewlett Packard and IBM after showing electronic workers in Mexico, Thailand and China suffering harassment, discrimination and intolerable working conditions.
In Thailand, a worker making hard drives that end up in computers sold by companies like Dell earns around £2.50 per day. Michael Dell, the CEO of Dell, earned £134,000 per day in 2003.
Director of public affairs at Dell, Barry French, called the report ìa wake up to ensure we continue to focus on this really important areaî.
After consulting with CAFOD, Dell produced a code of conduct this week that includes improved guidelines on discrimination and on providing health and safety training.
CAFODís Private Sector Analyst Katherine Astill said, ìWe welcome the Dell code as a vital step in improving labour standards in the electronics industry. Dell has taken on some of our concerns and included them in their code.
ìHowever, major weaknesses still exist. The right to collective bargaining and requirements that suppliers are open to trade unions are totally absent. The ability for workers to properly organise and represent themselves is crucial in improving poor labour standards.î
ìSome of the worst abuses CAFOD found involve subcontracted workers, and the Dell code does not address their rights. Plus, there is no ban on working more hours than the UN maximum of 48 per week standard, plus 12 per week overtime.
ìDellís new codes of conduct mark a great early success for CAFODís Clean Up Your Computer campaign. But our campaigners will be watching to see that the codes are put to use properly. We will also continue talking to Dell to tackle the areas their codes do not cover and to monitor the companyís implementation of code.î