Industry Coalition's Pledge to Prohibit Recruitment Fees Paid by Workers Seen as Important Step to Curb Slavery in Electronics Supply Chains

Date: 
Apr 8th 2015

Investors Commend the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) for Code of Conduct Amendment Specifically Addressing Trafficking and Slavery Risks Posed by Unethical Recruitment Practices

NEW YORK, NY – Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 –  Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) today affirmed the EICC’s decision to amend its code of conduct to include a provision that will prohibit the payment of fees for employment. The charging of recruitment fees by labor brokers is a common practice at the commodity and manufacturing levels of several industries, including the tech/electronics sector, where migrant labor is prevalent. Because these recruitment fees are often excessive, they may lead to debt labor, a form of modern day slavery.

Said David Schilling, Senior Program Director at ICCR, “From the beginning, we have been supportive of the EICC’s mission and its work to address both human rights and environmental risks in global electronics supply chains. Adding this critical ‘No Fees’ component to its code of conduct makes clear its intention to install needed human rights safeguards that will ensure vulnerable workers desperate for work in the electronics sector will not be exploited and enslaved through unethical recruitment practices. We look forward to continuing to work with the EICC and its members to drive the ‘No Fees” policy to the base of the electronics supply chain.”

ICCR’s “No Fees” Initiative, established through a grant from Humanity United, supports shareholder engagements on the issue of worker paid recruitment fees and calls for specific provisions in corporate human rights policies and supplier codes of conduct to prohibit them. During its first year, ‘No Fees’ focused on the food and agricultural sectors - specifically, seafood and palm oil production - as initial targets for member corporate engagements due to the known presence of human rights violations at the commodity levels of these industries.

On January 23rd of this year ICCR hosted a multi-stakeholder roundtable convening investors, NGOs and representatives from several high-risk industries to discuss best practice frameworks for implementing these policies. Representatives and members of the EICC participated in the roundtable.

“ICCR’s roundtables create important dialogue on practical ways to end forced labor in supply chains. In November 2014, HP issued a standard to eliminate recruiting fees for foreign migrant workers in its supply chain, and as an EICC founding member, we are pleased that this requirement will be now be part of the EICC Code of Conduct,” said Bob Mitchell, HP Global Manager, Supply Chain Responsibility.

“We appreciate the partnership of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and its ‘No Fees’ Initiative on the issue of recruitment fees paid by workers, and look forward to continuing to work with them and other stakeholders as we combat forced labor in the global supply chain,” said Rob Lederer, Executive Director, Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). 

Said Valentina Gurney, who coordinates the “No Fees” Initiative for ICCR and its members, “Clearly many industries are vulnerable to human rights risks from unethical recruitment practices and, for this reason, we are looking beyond electronics to companies in other high-risk sectors such as food and agriculture, apparel and hospitality. When a respected industry coalition like the EICC votes in favor of adopting a zero-tolerance policy on charging recruitment fees to workers it essentially raises the bar for the industry and has the potential for powerful far-reaching impact; for this reason we are very gratified by today’s announcement.”

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

Currently celebrating its 44th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world. www.iccr.org

 

CONTACT

Susana McDermott

Director of Communications, ICCR

212-870-2938

[email protected]

 

 

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