Google, Apple, Dell, Tesla and other tech companies are facing federal class-action lawsuits for “knowingly” using cobalt from the black-listed area of Congo where child labor is prevalent. Fourteen families have registered their concerns anonymously naming multinational tech organizations like Microsoft and Apple as prime defendants.
Source: Head Topic Source: The Guardian
The complaints have been made through the International Rights Advocates, and the organisation has narrated the dire conditions that children have to work in, for wages as low as $2 an hour due to poor financial position. The suit addresses the companies saying that their products actively benefit from the labor of poor children who have to risk their lives every day to dig cobalt from the dark tunnels and dangerous mines.
Cobalt is primarily used in powering the lithium batteries, and almost all the products manufactured by Apple, Tesla, Dell and others use it in excessive quantities. More than 60% of cobalt mining stations are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which happens to be one of the poorest countries in the world.
The lawsuit demands compensation for deaths, injuries, emotional trauma and neglect that the kids have faced over the years due to ignorance of companies.
The case further points out that cobalt mines are exploited by Glencore, which then sells the raw materials to Umicore where batteries are manufactured to fulfill the demands of tech corporations like Google, Tesla and Microsoft.
Congolese families argue that the children are employed for mining even though the dangers associated are extremely prominent.
The identity of plaintiffs is unknown as of now. However, according to court papers, one party named Jane Doe 1 is demanding the compensation of damages caused to her nephew who was wrongfully employed in a mine operated by Kamoto Copper Company, owned by Glencore.
She further stated that he dropped out of school due to poverty and in 2018, he died while working in an underground tunnel because of an explosion in the mine. His body was buried alive without notifying his family.
Source: The Register
Another child named John Doe 1 used to carry out the backbreaking task of transporting bags containing cobalt rocks at the age of nine for $0.75 per day. One day, while working, he fell into a tunnel, and his body was carried out by other miners.
He received no treatment as the workers left him on the open ground until his parents arrived and took him to the nearby doctor. The child is now paralyzed from the chest down and demands compensation for his injuries.
Tech companies were quick to respond to the allegations and Glencore that owns the mining stations in DRC stated, “Glencore does not tolerate any form of child, forced or compulsory labor” and denied knowing any such practices in the mining region.
The spokesperson for Apple said that the mandate of their company is “deeply committed to the responsible sourcing of materials that go into our products. We’ve led the industry by establishing the strictest standard for our suppliers and are constantly working to raise the bar for ourselves, and the industry.”
Microsoft has yet to come out with any statement, but upon interview, they said that they would investigate the allegations of the lawsuit and release a proper defense soon.