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Electronics industry challenged over use of toxic chemicals

  • Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics

16 March, 2015Representatives from more than 200 civil society organizations, including IndustriALL Global Union trade union affiliates, are today launching a challenge to prevent harm from toxic chemicals in the electronics industry.

On 16 March, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), an industry association representing over 100 electronics companies, will meet in Brussels to discuss chemical management strategies.

Civil society groups, led by the GoodElectronics Network and the International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT), are using the occasion to deliver a formal Challenge to the electronics industry urging it to improve chemical safety and stop endangering workers with exposure to toxic substances. 

The Challenge emphasizes the importance of disclosure, substitution of hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives, protection of workers, freedom of association, participation of workers in workplace monitoring, environmental protection, and the need for compensation of workers, communities and the environment for harm done.

Brian Kohler, Director of Health, Safety and Sustainability at IndustriALL, said:

“Health and safety is a matter of workers’ rights. Workers have rights and employers have responsibilities. It’s as simple as that. It’s time for the electronics industry to stop hiding behind ineffective auditing systems and weak regulation and take real action to stop workers being poisoned on production lines.”

There is growing evidence of illnesses and cancer among electronics workers. Trade unions and NGOs report hundreds of cases of electronics workers who have fallen ill over the past five years from exposure to benzene and other highly toxic chemicals used in manufacturing.

IndustriALL and its trade union affiliates in the key electronics production areas of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, and the USA have joined the call for electronics employers to heed the challenge. 

Click here to read the Challenge and see its supporters.