Child Labour in the Electronics Industry

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Solange digs by hand for a dull black metallic ore called Coltan in the mines of the Eastern Congo.

This stone contains an essential metal used to manufacture electronic circuit boards that power smartphones, game consoles, and computers.

Congo’s black gold.

Children like Solange are the first to pay the price of the coltan trade.

Many start working as young as seven years old; Solange began to work in the mines when she was just 11.

By 14, she was married.

Now 17, Solange is already a widow and the mother of two little boys aged one and two

Solange weeps as she explains that she constantly works with no day off for $US21 a week.

“It’s backbreaking work, but here we have no other work that can pay us this amount a day,” she says.

At any given time, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour
1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.

According to KTC (Know the Chain), “the majority of technology companies remain “negligent in their efforts to address forced labour.”

This is a terrible and complex problem; however, I refuse to give up, hoping that there can be a solution.

The more I study it, I realise it will require a multi-pronged approach; however, extending hardware lifecycles and reducing demand will help; this brings a lot of meaning to my job.

In addition, please see some great information sheets for companies in the comments section on how to rid child labour from your supply chain.

Let me know what you think?

Charlotte Walker

I'm the National Account Manager and CEO-in-waiting for Digital Engineering Corporation (DEC). We help business leaders and IT managers reduce their IT maintenance costs and achieve their business goals because our approach is pre-emptive, predictable and purposeful. As an entrepreneur myself, I know consistent and predictable network uptime contributes to a business's bottom line, brand recognition, and market reputation.