Feeds

Tech sector still loves its slaves: study

Fewer than half of kit-makers can trace their supply chain properly

The essential guide to IT transformation

They avoid paying tax at the top, and avoid paying workers at the bottom: a new study into the supply practises of the tech sector finds most participants don't know where their materials come from and don't really seem to care.

That's what emerges from a Baptist World Aid report that scored 39 kit suppliers – covering all manner of products, from smartphones to servers, satnavs to switches, thumb-drives to games – on the basis of their supply chains' worker practises and exploitation of conflict minerals.

Of all the companies examined in the study, only Nokia cared enough about its lofty PR statements about fair trade to actually collect the data needed to verify that it pays workers a decent wage in countries like India and China.

Baptist World Aid worked with US anti-slavery organisation Not for Sale to produce the report, which found that the rest of the industry couldn't demonstrate adequate wages in their supply chain.

Only 18 per cent of companies could manage even partial visibility through their supply chain to the sources of their raw materials, the study claims. While just over one-third of tech companies acknowledged their workers' rights to collective bargaining, only one company – Nokia again – had gone so far as to actually put collective bargaining agreements in place.

Surprisingly, the low supply chain visibility often continued all the way to the end of the chain, since only 49 per cent of vendors identified “all of their suppliers at the final stage of production” (something the report's authors commend, but which The Register finds almost incomprehensible in an industry that touts its “paddock-to-plate” level of supply chain management).

The full version of the report notes that 59 per cent of the 39 tech vendors assessed have a project to start tracing the suppliers of their source minerals.

Even though Nokia also guarantees its workers will be paid above the local minimum wage, the Finns could not score better than a B+ in the final assessment; the report gave Apple, Samsung and Motorola scores of B+, B and B- respectively, while Australian brand Kogan landed a D-.

Chinese vendors performed poorly, with HTC, Huawei and Lenovo among the producers that scored D or below, but they're hardly alone: Fujitsu, Amazon, Nintendo and Oracle were also in the bottom half of the scores.

Baptist World Aid says giving workers a living wage in the factory farms that assemble our gadgets has an impact of only about 1.5 per cent on the final price of the product.

The full report is available here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
'Aaaah FFS, 'amazeballs' has made it into the OXFORD DICTIONARY'
Plus: 'EE, how shocking, ANOTHER problem I face with your service'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.