Education institutions in Western Europe spent more than 4 billion euros on ICT hardware,
software and services in 2014 to secure quality education for millions of young Europeans. Servers
are essential and indispensable components of ICT infrastructure, data centers and ICT systems in
modern European universities and other public institutions. Higher education institutions in Western
Europe spent 461.38 million euros on servers alone.
Danwatch has investigated the supply chain of servers bought by European universities and found
that whilst young European students enjoy a break in their studies during the summer, tens of
thousands of Chinese students are sent by their schools – many of them forced, on irrelevant
internships to the assembly lines of electronic factories to produce servers and other ICT
equipment for the world’s biggest brands. Interns work 10-12 hours a day, six days a week for
3-5 months producing equipment that later will end in universities across Europe.
Danwatch investigated the supply chain of servers at European universities because, according to
Principle 6 of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as public procurers universities
have a particular responsibility to protect human rights when doing business with companies.
HP, Dell and Lenovo are the leading server brands in the higher education sector in Europe,
according to market data and Danwatch’s research. Wistron Corporation in Zhongshan, China,
manufactures servers for all three brands.
Danwatch’s investigation and interviews with student interns from Wistron in Zhongshan reveals several violations of interns’ rights, Chinese labour law and the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention on forced labour.