Over 50 electronics companies fail to make the grade on forced labour, child labour and exploitation.

 The 2016 Electronics Industry Trends report released this week by Baptist World Aid shows the electronics industry has not made sufficient progress in implementing steps to protect workers. However, the shining light in the study is beleagured retailer Dick Smith.

“Forced labour, child labour and exploitation remain as significant problems in the supply chain of the electronics Industry. This is the most valuable industry in the world, worth in the trillions. If anyone can afford to ensure they have an ethical supply chain, it’s our big tech companies,” Baptist World Aid Australia Advocacy Manager Gershon Nimbalker said.

Now in its second year, the Electronics Industry Trends report graded 56 companies from A to F on the practices and policies they have in place to mitigate the risk of forced labour, child labour and exploitation.  This grading reflects the levels of visibility and transparency these companies have across their supply chain.

While 64% of companies showed some improvement since the report’s release in 2014, not a single company had managed to improve its practices and policies enough to earn an A grade.

The median grade for the 2016 report was C suggesting workers remain overworked and underpaid working long shifts with no overtime pay, little rest and wages so low families struggle to make ends meet.  This lack of a living wage was a top concern as it meant workers still would not be able to afford the basics – food, water, shelter and electricity.

Company Grade Company Grade Company Grade
Acer B+ GoPro D- Olympus C+
Amazon D+ Haier D- Oracle D+
Apple B+ Hewlett Packard B Palsonic F
Arçelik A.Åž D+ Hisense F Panasonic B-
Asus C Hitachi C Philips B
BlackBerry B- HTC D+ Polaroid F
Breville C+ Huawei D+ Ricoh B-
BSH Group B+ Intel B+ Samsung B+
Canon D+ JVC Kenwood D- SanDisk B
Capital Brands D- Kodak C- Sharp C-
Dell B- Kogan D- Soniq D-
De’Longhi C Leica Camera AG D- Sony C
Dick Smith Electronics B- Lenovo D+ Sunbeam D-
Dyson D LG Electronics B+ TEAC D-
Electrolux B- Microsoft B+ TomTom C+
Ericsson C+ Motorola Mobility B+ Toshiba B
Fujitsu D+ Motorola Solutions B Vorwerk D-
Garmin B Nikon C Whirlpool D+
Google C- Nintendo C-    

The second Electronics Industry Trends report significantly builds on the previous year, grading 13 additional companies with 61% of all companies featured actively engaging in the research.

Of those surveyed two years in a row, Baptist World Aid applauds the progress of the five companies that improved the most:

Company 2014 Grade 2015 Grade
San Disk C- B
Dick Smith D B-
Asus D- C
Garmin C B
BlackBerry C- B-

In its notes to editors, Baptist World Aid recognised that Dick Smith is in administration. It commended them for demonstrating that a number of their factories in China were paying wages significantly above the minimum, but also note that there is no negative correlation between strong labour rights management systems and financial performance, with many of the highest valued companies receiving some of the highest grades in the industry.

The full Electronics Industry Trends report is also available to download fromwww.behindthebarcode.org.au

This story first appeared in Appliance Retailer