The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), a nonprofit coalition of leading electronics companies dedicated to supply chain responsibility, announced on August 26 the launch of a foreign migrant worker protection pilot program that aims to improve communications in electronics factories by providing workers with more effective ways to report issues related to social, environmental and ethical responsibility. The name of the program is Suara Kita, which is Malay for “Our Voice.

Foreign migrant workers across industries worldwide face unique challenges due to language barriers, complex legal environments, government regulatory barriers, and a reliance on labor brokers and recruitment agencies.

The program will be piloted in Malaysia, given the sizable industry presence and large number of foreign workers there, from September 2015 through December 2016 with plans for it to be rolled out globally afterward.

The EICC program aims to improve worker-management communication in factories; build off existing company training, grievance and helpline efforts; inform the larger EICC grievance management strategy globally; and complement other efforts to implement new standards governing foreign migrant workers as outlined in the EICC Code of Conduct and regulations such as the U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulation(FAR) on Ending Trafficking in Persons.

Key elements of the pilot include:

  • a comprehensive worker survey, to inform training and establish a baseline to measure against;
  • a worker-management communication program, based on EICC training, specific to foreign migrant workers and their employers;
  • worker education on effective grievance mechanisms; and
  • the development and launch of a worker helpline to address issues that are not resolved at the factory level.

“By improving communication in factories and enhancing worker grievance mechanisms, companies can identify and address issues in their supply chains more quickly,” said Rob Lederer, Executive Director of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). “Our ultimate goal with this program is to create better, safer environments for foreign migrant workers throughout the electronics industry.”

In alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the provisions in the EICC Code of Conduct are derived from key international human rights standards.