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Caritas fight for computer component workers' rights

A campaign organised by CAFOD, the Caritas affiliate for England and Wales, has forced IBM to respond to demands for better conditions for electronics workers in Mexico, Thailand and China.

But CAFOD says their response falls a long way short of guaranteeing good conditions.

CAFOD uncovered evidence that electronics workers in Mexico, Thailand and China suffer illegally low pay, long hours, humiliating recruitment tests and harassment.

In its letter to the campaigners, IBM said it is "taking steps" with its component suppliers to reinforce its "strong policy against discrimination in the workplace".

"IBM, unlike Dell, does not show any openness towards adopting a code of conduct," says Katherine Astill, CAFOD's policy analyst. "A code is a crucial first step in improving conditions for workers. CAFOD is disappointed by their response."

CAFOD wants IBM to adopt a code of conduct based on international standards - set by the UN International Labour Organisation. It should cover the right of workers to join Trade Unions, no child labour and no forced labour.

Ms Astill said Hewlett Packard is leading the field, with a code of conduct partly based on internationally agreed labour standards and have started to put it into practice over the past two years.

Dell has recently adopted a code of conduct in response to CAFOD's campaign. We are consulting with them further to improve their code and to help them implement it.

Computer companies byte back! (CAFOD 18/3/04)

19 Mar 2004