It’s hard to imagine a world without electronic gadgets. We all rely on Information Technology-IT everyday. In fact, IT has improved our lives in many different ways. But it has also created many new problems around the world.
As part of the Make IT Better campaign of Friends of the Earth, thousands of people have forced Samsung to confirm it uses tin from Bangka Island, Indonesia, where tin mining is ravaging forests and coral reefs, injuring miners and destroying fishermen's livelihoods. Apple almost certainly also uses tin in its mobile phones that has come from that same Island.
You can now write to Apple to be transparent about its supply chain and to encourage other companies to do the same: http://www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/make_it_better_action_37571.html
A new investigation by the Chinese NGO Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) into Apple supplier Biel Crystal has revealed numerous labour abuses and violation of Chinese Labour Law. The findings are presented in the report “Stains on Iphones’ cover glass. Dehumanized working condition of Biel Crystal for Apple's Products”.
There’s gold in your mobile phone that could be from mines where children from the age of 6 are working with their life at stake. This is described in the new report ‘Child mined gold in your gadgets?’, by DanWatch on mines in Mali and Ghana. None of the investigated mobile phone brands can guarantee child labour-free gold.
Thousands of students from the Xi’an Institute of Technology have been participating in an internship programme, as it is officially called, at Foxconn. The students do not have much choice, however, as they are told that they will not receive six essential course credits if they do not complete this internship. which effectively means they will not be able to graduate. Moreover, the work that they are being given in no way matches their study programme or their competence levels. Foxconn meanwhile claims that the students working on the Sony PlayStation 4 are doing so on an entirely voluntary basis and that they are free to stop at any moment. It is not only in China that these human rights abuses occur; makeITfair has encountered similar forced labour with students in Thailand.
Forced overtime, strenuous shifts during peak periods, few days off each month, wages lower than a living wage, and militant management; these are the outcomes of an investigation into Chinese IT manufacturers by six European NGOs in collaboration with China Labor Watch. The report is published today, and is accompanied by a short documentary.
The large majority of European companies do not conduct due diligence to ensure that their products are free from ‘conflict minerals’. They therefore risk being linked to violent conflict and grave human rights abuses. International standards have clearly outlined the responsibility of companies to conduct such due diligence and the European Commission is currently developing an initiative on responsible sourcing of minerals from conflict affected and high-risk areas. “But unless required by law, most companies do not address this issue at all”, says Tim Steinweg of the Center of Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).