Does Child Labor Take Place at Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell & Tesla?
Cobalt is used in lithium-ion batteries found in virtually every rechargeable electronic device. The U.S. Department of Labor stated that mining cobalt “is dependent upon children” and a complaint made by International Rights Advocates stated “the horrors of the plight of these children has been widely reported in the media”. The majority of the worlds cobalt supply comes from Congo where child labor is still rampant.
Over a dozen anonymous plaintiffs calling themselves “guardians of children killed in tunnel or wall collapses” while mining, filed a lawsuit claiming that Congo uses child labor to extract cobalt for the global market. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla use cobalt in their products and over the years have dodged complaints that child labor is fueling their companies. The majority of those companies have promised to only use professionally sourced cobalt by excluding “artisanal miners”.
Dell made a statement that it is “committed to the responsible sourcing of minerals” and “upholding the human rights of workers at any tier of our supply chain and treating them with dignity and respect”.
“We have never knowingly sourced operations using any form of involuntary labor, fraudulent recruiting practices or child labor. We work with suppliers to manage their sourcing programs responsibly. Any supplier with reports of misconduct is investigated and if misconduct is found, removed from our supply chain,”
Google / Alphabet Company said “Child labor and endangerment is unacceptable,” a company spokesperson told CNN Business. “Our Supplier Code of Conduct strictly prohibits this activity. We are committed to sourcing all materials ethically and eliminating child mining in global supply chains. As an active member of the Responsible Minerals Initiative, we work alongside our suppliers, other companies and industry groups to drive efforts in and beyond the Congo.
Microsoft and Tesla had no comment.
Mining companies Glencore, Umicore and Huayou Cobalt, were not listed as defendants in the lawsuit although the group said they do supply some or all of the defendants.