EICC Takes Action to Protect Vulnerable Workers from Human Trafficking

By Annick Febrey

Last week, the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) announced an important new policy to ban all recruitment fees paid by workers. By indebting them to the labor recruiter that hired them or the loan shark they’re forced to visit in order to be able to pay them, recruitment fees cause workers to be vulnerable to forced labor and human trafficking.

The EICC’s new policy is an update to its code of conduct, which went into effect on April 1st of this year. The code of conduct also bans other practices such as withholding an employee’s immigration documents, and it requires that workers are provided with a written contract in their native language prior to departing for the job.

The impact of these bold policies will be substantial. The EICC is comprised of more than 100 electronics companies, representing 17 different sectors from consumer brands to smelters, with combined annual revenue of approximately $3 trillion, and directly employing over 5.5 million people.

Business engagement in anti-trafficking efforts, such as the steps taken by the EICC, is critical. While there are an estimated 20.9 million people enslaved around the globe generating $150 billion annually in illicit profits, governments and NGOs worldwide spend only $124 million annually trying to stop it. Ending trafficking requires a multi-sector approach including government, business and civil society working together to reverse the risk-reward equation for those who profit from trafficking in persons.

With an estimated 18 million workers in the electronics industry at-large, many more workers remain vulnerable beyond the EICC members. We hope the industry—as well as other important industries such as agriculture, apparel and construction—will follow the EICC’s leadership and enact similar policies soon.

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Published on April 13, 2015

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