Chapter 6 discussion questions

Challenging Labor: Working Conditions in the Electronics Industry

Marisol Sandoval and Kristina Areskog Bjurling

This chapter presents the voice of labor advocates in the electronics industry. In this chapter, Marisol Sandoval and Kristina Areskog Bjurling present evidence of labor rights violations in the electronics industry in China, Vietnam, the Philippines and India based on numerous reports by members of the MakeITFair Campaign. They cover a range of critical areas including wages, working hours, workplace safety, discrimination and harassment at work, rights to unionize and to collective bargaining. They argue for abandoning simplistic versions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) that improve corporate image without adequately addressing workers’ rights and conditions. In its place, they advocate for a nuanced approach to CSR, which establishes more direct links between workers and brands in order to develop clear relationships of accountability and improve conditions for workers in the sector. The authors conclude with lessons from their campaigns to secure workers’ rights in the supply chain of the global IT-industry and the relevance for other industries.

 

Questions:

  1. How are research and advocacy for structural change linked in makeITfair’s work?
  2. How effective have corporate social responsibility initiatives been in improving the conditions for workers producing electronics, and what are the problems with these initiatives?
  3. What are the characteristics of the electronics industry that put workers particularly at risk?
  4. What roles can unions and NGOs play in securing better conditions for electronics workers?
  5. What are the potential benefits and limitations of raising consumer awareness for improving conditions for electronics workers?

 

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