Fourteen Congolese families are working with International Rights Advocates in pursuing a class-action lawsuit against big name tech companies that have “aided and abetted,” an international system of forced child labor. The companies called out in the suit include Apple, Tesla and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, among others.
Although major companies officially prohibit child workers within their supply chains, the plaintiffs in this case assert that big tech and affiliated suppliers have turned a blind eye towards the issue.
In order to produce the millions of lithium batteries and other computer components used in our day-to-day technologies, the mineral cobalt is required. Sixty to seventy percent of the world’s cobalt is extracted from Congolese mines.
Within the lawsuit, the families describe working for as little as $2.00 per day, and under perilous conditions. One family that could not afford their child’s school fees sent him to labor in the mines, only to have a tunnel collapse on him, robbing him of his life. This death only added insult to the misfortune and punishment that is poverty. The company employing the child did not dig his body out of the rubble.
“Others still say tunnel collapses killed their children, broke their spines, or maimed their limbs. None of them were compensated for deaths or injuries”
The global appetite for cobalt has multiplied three-fold in the past five years, and is anticipated to continue growing. The dearth of oversight has begun to roil consumers. How will big tech address this prominent issue?
For more on this story, visit The Guardian.