Campaigners welcome IBM code of conduct

 IBM has adopted a code of conduct for their suppliers following CAFOD's campaign on dire working conditions in computer factories in the developing world. CAFOD has been campaigning for brand leaders to take greater responsibility for electronics workers. CAFOD's Clean Up Your Computer report issued in January criticised IBM, Dell and Hewlett Packard after research showed electronic workers in Mexico, Thailand, and China suffering harassment, discrimination and intolerable working conditions. CAFOD welcomes the new IBM code as taking some crucial steps towards ensuring decent labour standards in the company's supply chain. These include IBM's commitment to work with suppliers to implement the code and to monitor the implementation. CAFOD Policy Analyst Katherine Astill said: "This is a great achievement for CAFOD's campaigners who have sent thousands of messages to IBM. The IBM code is roughly as good as the codes of other industry leaders Dell and Hewlett Packard. It is definitely a move in the right direction." On certain issues, such as putting in place limits of 60 hours per week for workers and guaranteeing employees a day off per week, IBM now leads the field. But CAFOD regrets the failings of the IBM code. There is an absence of any provision on the right to join unions, there is a limitation on wage commitments to local law, and an 'exceptional circumstance' caveat on the 60 hours per week commitment. CAFOD is hopeful for greater levels of dialogue with IBM. CAFOD partners, who have knowledge and experience on issues affecting workers in IBM's supply chain in Mexico and China, could play a vital part as the codes are rolled out. Katherine Astill said: "All three market leaders must still improve their codes. All codes have not provided adequately for freedom of association. CAFOD believes that this is a major failing as it is one of the UN's core labour standards. Without the right to join unions, workers will not be adequately represented in the workplace. This will threaten any sustainable improvement of labour standards. "CAFOD is still very keen to see that these codes are properly implemented. CAFOD will be campaigning until all three companies adopt and ensure effective implementation of codes of conduct based on UN standards." To see Clean up your Computer: Working conditions in the electronics sector; or the online animation A Tale of Two Cities visit:

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