“Fair Trade” Electronics

Posted on May 27, 2010

From Foxconn Suicides: Is It Time For “Fair Trade” Electronics? Would You Buy A “Fair Trade” iPhone? by Tom Foremski

All the large tech companies such as Apple, Nokia, Dell, etc have agreements with their suppliers that they do not employ children, and that they will abide by certain standards to protect workers. But it’s not clear how these are monitored, enforced, or how much in common they share across the electronics industry.

What is common across the electronics industry is a relentless focus on reducing manufacturing costs, and the largest manufacturing cost is labor; which is why employees are pushed to work faster, while maintaining high quality work, and at the lowest wages acceptable.

We reap the benefits in the form of cheap digital gadgets, gizmos, and computers. We have absolutely no idea about all the blood, sweat, and human suffering that went into creating our digital devices.

I’ve been following the Foxconn issue since it came to light and find it extremely troubling. Like many others in the tech industry, I would welcome a global solution to ensuring human rights and humane conditions for all workers creating consumer electronics. Much like the fashion industry had to be held accountable for their manufacturing practices, so should the tech/electronics industry.