Sxissinfo reports that the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and the Protestant agency Bread for all are calling on consumers to protest against the exploitation of workers and to ensure firms meet their social responsibilities.
The campaign follows an investigation of 27 suppliers in China, Thailand and the Philippines commissioned by the charities. The five brands in the firing line are Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Apple and Fujitsu Siemens.
"All forms of labour must respect human dignity," Charles Ridore of the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund told swissinfo.
"But in this sector - as in others - firms are relocating, leading to unemployment in our part of the world and exploitation in developing countries, with the clear aim of maximising profits."
Ridore highlighted the low wages and the health risks faced by factory workers. The campaign group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour has labelled the electronics industry "one of the most toxic in the world".
Investigators say that during peak production workers put in 12 hours a day, seven days a week, plus mandatory overtime - all for 50 Australian cents per hour.
The charities are calling for a ban on forced labour and child workers, non-discrimination and for staff to be allowed to form a union. They say they are willing to work with suppliers to help them improve conditions.
Ridore said he hoped the initiative would achieve similar results to the fair-trade campaign targeting the textile industry.
The Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and Bread for all are urging the public not to boycott the multinationals but to send in cards bearing the words, "High Tech - No Rights?"
"We are asking them to recognise their social responsibility along the entire production process and not just in Swiss salesrooms. If they have a code of conduct, they must make sure it is made known to all those participating in the production and assembly of their computers," Ridore concluded.
Charities slam conditions for computer workers (Swissinfo, 28/2/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund
Students and scholars against corporate misbehaviour
1 Mar 2007