Apple, Samsung, Sony and More Accused of Links With Child Labor

While many people around the world are worried about which new flagship gadget to buy, there are those who work for hours without breaks to build those flagships. Some of them happen to be young children.

A new report from Amnesty International claims that Apple, Samsung and Sony have consistently failed to perform the basic checks required of them to ensure that their partners in manufacturing are not taking advantage of child labor.

The Crux of the Child Labor Issue

The report is centered around cobalt mining in the Demographic Republic of Congo. Congo is the biggest source of the mineral mainly used in Li-ion battery production, which amounts to 50 percent of global production.

The report is based on interviews with 87 people, who claim that cobalt is being mined by children as young as seven in the African country. The raw material is then sold off to large mineral firms who contract these mining operations. Some of the companies named in the report are Congo Dongfang Mining, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd and Huayou Cobalt. These companies process the raw material for smartphone makers and other companies manufacturing in South Korea and China.

Amnesty International claims that large manufacturers, including Samsung, Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Huawei and Lenovo, use the parts which contain the mineral mined in these operations. For their part, these companies which make billions of dollars in profit, cannot credibly confirm that their products possess no linkage to child labor.

The report claims that as many as 40,000 children work in Cobalt mines in Congo. Some of these children who were interviewed revealed shocking information. Most children work for 12 hours each day and get paid only $1 to $2 for all their effort. Children usually work above ground, they wash and carry heavy loads of rocks. Amnesty International’s report also claims that children are physically abused and exposed to hazardous gases during the process.

Amnesty International claims that large manufacturers, including Samsung, Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Huawei and Lenovo, use the parts which contain the mineral mined in these operations.

Mark Dummett, Amnesty International’s business and human rights researcher stated “Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products.”

It is ironic, unethical and a paradox that companies are making billions on the backs of child labor and have no firm methods to ensure these sort of things don’t happen.

Apple’s Statement:

“Underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards. We are currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, in order to identify labor and environmental risks as well as opportunities for Apple to bring about effective, scalable and sustainable change.”

Samsung’s Response:

Samsung claims it has a “zero tolerance policy” on child labor and “contracts with suppliers who use child labour will be immediately terminated.”

Sony Does Damage Control:

Sony defended itself by stating that it’s “working with the suppliers to address issues related to human rights and labor conditions at the production sites, as well as in the procurement of minerals and other raw materials.”

The Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt informed Amnesty that the company had “reasonably presumed that the behaviors of suppliers comply with relevant regulations of the DRC and taken the corresponding social responsibilities.”

The report claims that as many as 40,000 children work in Cobalt mines in Congo.

Concluding Thoughts

This is not the first time that these companies are being accused of such careless and cruel practices. Samsung has been accused of employing underage workers before, while Apple has made several headlines during the past few years for violating human rights and employing underage workers. The world needs to wake up and go beyond their favoritism for these companies. People need to force these manufacturers by protesting and boycotting their products until fool-proof methods are employed to fulfil all human rights requirements.

He is the Editor at ProPakistani.


  • Inam

    I don’t get it. What’s wrong with Child Labor anyway? If these kids could afford education wouldn’t they be in Schools? And as they can’t do that, they are therefore learning Technical Skills which helps them feed their families. Isn’t that good?

    • We as a society have to educate our children so they become better citizens. We have to make education affordable and compulsory.

      And no they are not learning technical skills. Isn’t it better if they learn to design bridges instead of fixing punctures? And it’s not just the type of work, it’s also the amount of work that is the issue.

      And no, it’s not their responsibility to feed their families. That responsibility lies with the family head.

      • Inam

        I’m going to answer to the points you’ve made.

        1) Exactly my point. Providing quality education free of cost (minimal cost) is the responsibility of the STATE. Just as State has to provide Food, House, Clothing and Security. Quality Education is also a basic necessity.

        2) Not learning technical skills? Isn’t it better to design a bridge than fixing punctures? Dude, with respect, what are you smoking?? Is somehow designing a bridge superior than fixing punctures? What kind of mentality is that?

        3) Bro, once again. With respect, what are you smoking?? Do you have any idea how much poverty exist in Pakistan? Consider this: A kid, named Ali is 9-10 years old, you have 5 bros/sis and his father is a drunk (or even dead). His mother suffers from breast cancer and she stills washes people’s homes and toilets (which BTW isn’t a respectful enough profession according to YOU). Should Ali (being eldest of all children) learn some technical skills in order to earn something so he may help his mother in running the house. Or he should just lie down and say that’s not my responsibility?! What should he do? Children from very, and I mean very poor families do child labor because of their circumstances. Not every other children does it. Neither your, nor mine child will do child labor because we are sitting on our couches comfortably!
        POOR CHILDREN LEARN SKILLS SO THEY MAY SUPPORT THEIR VERY POOR FAMILIES.

        If all of the people on earth learn bridge-making then who will fix a puncture of your precious little car? Who are you (or anyone else) to decide which profession is superior to which profession?

        THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS YOU MAKE HALAL MONEY. EAT HALAL.

        BTW I’m curious, what do you mean by ‘educate our children so they become better citizens’? What do you say about students of IBA and LUMS being involved in high-intensity crimes? Do you even know, in Karachi most of the thefts are being done be educated people (with no jobs) ?? Should I also point it out that how these civilized citizen boys/men harass, intimidate and blackmail young girls of colleges/universities just to get that one night?!

        BTW do you think a banker is doing a superior job than a dry-cleaner? Do you understand that a banker rips off hard-earned money from people while a dry-cleaner earns his income in an honest way. Are you actually arguing that a banker is superior because he works in an office in his 3-piece suit and drives a Porsche? Do you know what kind of thinking it’s called? Elitist Mentality!

        And BTW, if children who can’t afford education should also not learn any positive, good skill then what do you think they would do? Just lie down? Wander about? Eventually start stealing, theft? Become criminals? Become even drug addicts? The list goes on.

        You Choose.

        • 1) Yes quality education and security is basic necessity. I agree to that, you agree to that (although I was confused by your 3rd-last paragraph), everyone agrees to that. But you want food, housing and clothing from state? Aqalmand, state ko ye saari chizen kon de ga. If state gives everything to everyone, from where is it going to get the income tax? Or do you want to continue being the elite you are and get everything on a silver-platter? Yes, state has to support low-income families so through education they can make their situation better. But state is not responsible for food, clothing and housing. Clear that.

          2) First of all, you should learn not to be personal. Secondly, it’s you who is smoking something here. I didn’t say designing bridges is better than fixing punctures. I said for young people “learning” to design bridges is better than fixing punctures. And that was a metaphor for learning valuable skills such as Engineering instead of working at a street shop.

          3) You assumed I thought designing bridges is superior than fixing punctures. You assumed that I felt a few people are superior than others. Well, I didn’t and just to clarify again it was a METAPHOR. That makes 40% of your rant above invalid. I said it’s better for young people to learn skills such as “designing bridges” which is definitely going to earn them more in future and lead them to a successful career. Set them on a life-long journey of learning. Teach them morals, values and importance of education. Encourage them to pursue higher education and try to contribute to their country. Compare that to working at a tyre shop and these children will forever remain there. And remember we are talking about young people here, not adults.

          4) So you are saying that education doesn’t make people better citizens? Is that your point? If you are saying that, check again whether you are smoking something (because you seem to like smoking a lot). Your point is that if few students are involved in crime and immoral activities, stop education for all? And you think that stopping education is going to sop crime and immoral activities. Yaar kehna kya chahte ho? Soch to lo.

          5) Yes I am fully aware of poverty in our country. Our society isn’t ideal. Education is not accessible to everyone. Our system is not the best. Poor are not supported. But what I have said, I stand to that. It is not the responsibility of a child to support his family. The severe example you mentioned is rare. There are several cases where the parents want to earn just a bit more and they put their children to work. Even if they could afford their children going to school, they don’t allow it. And just for your information, if these children go to school their chances for a good job increase tremendously. Even you (who seems to be educated, at least formally) can’t agree to this, that’s reflective of the mindset in many people. BTW there are many organizations which provide education for free. There are many schools which are free. So this is not an excuse for continuing child labour.

          There is just so much wrong with your comment above. I can’t reply to all. I am not here to argue. Almost everyone agrees that child labour is wrong. So I won’t try convincing you. I hope you come to realize that yourself.

          • Inam

            1) You need to educate yourself about every country’s constitutional promises/rights to their citizen. Income tax, first of all is not a mandatory requirement to run a state. That stupid taxation approach is used by lazy governments, likes of Pakistan and others, to just tax the shoot out of people instead of generating revenues by creating successful businesses.

            2) + 3) Try to understand my point, once again. With an open heart. The education that has some worth, that enables a child to start his career as engineer/doctor is NOT FREE. ITS EXPENSIVE. IT ISN’T AVAILABLE IN GOVT SCHOOLS. Do you think one can learn designing bridges / any engineering discipline just as simple by getting an admission in a government school? Really, do you think that? Don’t you know how much quality education does government schools provide?

            How many engineers have you seen getting a job who studied in Government Schools, Government Colleges and Government Universities?

            5 out of 100 ?

            Is that a good average? Do you think this strategy is successful?

            What do the remaining 95 do? I hope you know the answer to that.

            4) Once again, mein kehna yeh chahta k, most of the time, education is NOT THE ANSWER.
            A cheap-ass education that has no worth, no practical application is totally useful – as it has been proven in Pakistan by thousands of jobless youth.

            5) Severe example I’ve mentioned is not rare. You have to really get out of your closet and talk to the guy selling vegetables in your street about how rare extreme poverty is in Pakistan. Go to South Punjab. Go to inner Sindh. Oh Gosh, Go to Baluchistan. And KPK? Here is a documentary for you that explains my point: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4173938/

            We have a lot of poor people in this country dude. The government has practically freed the education in its institutes. But that free educations sucks bad. It isn’t doing anything. It isn’t improving Pakistan’s situation for the past 60+ years. Why not, for once, stop being stupid and try something useful?!

            Why not train our kids with TECHNICAL EDUCATION! TECHNICAL TRAINING! HANDS-ON TRAINING THAT IS IMMEDIATELY USEFUL TO THEM.

        • Furqan

          R.E.S.P.E.C.T! Point well made and point well communicated! Totally second that.

        • RT

          strongly agree on first point.

    • abobobilly

      Not really, not if they are forced to do such daunting tasks. They are still ‘kids’, and they deserve education and basic necessities.

      • Inam

        I just wrote an answer in reply to Waqas. I suggest you read it to completely understand the point I’m making.

    • RT

      honestly it sounds like a materialistic approach. as human beings we must not give a blind eye to the issues like these or ignore. What’s wrong should be considered wrong and must not be given exception (that is the weakest level of faith #hadith). Teaching kids (ignore the paki context) is different than putting them in labour for hours.

      • Inam

        By materialistic approach, I hope you mean how capitalism and modern banking system is driving everyone to get a job and start earning just to run a home. I totally agree with that. That is really a very bad thing.
        But this discussion is not about that. We are talking about making young generation (who can’t afford to study) capable of learning technical skills that may help them set their career and support their families. This is compassion. Not materialism.

  • Lazy Sapper

    15 years old is not a kid. These stupid westerns should burn this fraud labor policy. Their history is based on child labor all the time.

  • Abdul Samad

    Give them free education , health care and basic necessities . i bet all these will be in school instead hardship…