According to the International Labour Organization, approximately 24.9 million people worldwide are in conditions of forced labor. Unfortunately, the electronics industry supply chain also sees incidences of forced labor, particularly in Asia and particularly via means of debt bondage and document seizure.
While the RBA Code of Conduct explicitly bans trafficked and forced labor, completely eradicating it in the global electronics industry supply chain remains a challenge for RBA members. To explore how the entire industry – represented in RBA membership – can work together to eradicate trafficked and forced labor in electronics industry supply chains, the RBA began a taskforce to address this topic in 2014. For years prior to the beginning of the taskforce the RBA had also offered members online trainings and special educational opportunities during member events. For a summary statement about our work over the past decade to combat forced labor in supply chains, please click here.
The taskforce’s first priority was to analyze information from members and their supply chains to better understand the true extent of the problem, and look for trends such as high risk countries and common methods used by traffickers and agents of forced labor. With a solid understanding of the problem particular to the electronics industry, a range of activities were then considered to help members uncover, remedy and prevent future incidences of trafficked and forced labor in their supply chains. These activities include exploring better and broader training of key on-the-ground actors, review of labor agencies to help members make informed choices about working with labor brokers and a range of other actions to be taken with a multi-industry approach for the most positive impact on workers.
In 2016 we launched a supplement to the VAP (called the SVAP) that specifically focuses on finding indicators of forced labor. For more information on how to schedule a SVAP, please contact us. In 2017 we launched a new effort called the Responsible Labor Initiative, focused on labor agents in the supply chain and risks associated with the recruitment of foreign workers.
We recognize this is a journey and we are committed to continuing our multi-industry work to make a difference in this important area.