Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Dell (NYSE:DELL) and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) have been accused of aiding and abetting child labor, injury, and death of children in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Five tech companies sued for using child labor in mines in DRC
Human rights and advocacy group, International Rights Advocates, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 14 Congolese parents and children in the US District of Columbia District Court. The suit accuses the tech companies of aiding and abetting the abuse of young children in DRC.
The five companies are accused of forcing young children as young as six to work in the cobalt mine for long hours where they were injured and killed. The suit also includes photos of the plaintiffs with injuries like crushed and broken legs. The parents and their children are seeking damages for medical costs, unpaid wages as well as for mental pain and suffering they underwent by working in dangerous conditions.
The court documents show how the children sought work in a large mining site where they received as little as $2 per day. This is at the expense of dangerous digging for cobalt rocks using primitive tools in underground tunnels. Some of the children died in the tunnel collapses while others suffered brutal injuries.
Cobalt vital in the manufacture of lithium and electric car batteries
Cobalt is an important resource for the tech companies that use it to make lithium batteries used in phones, rechargeable electric vehicle batteries as well as other products. DRC is one of the leading countries in the production of cobalt globally.
This is not the first time such allegations are brought against the tech companies. In 2016 Amnesty International accused Apple, Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung of using children in mines in the DRC. Amnesty International had also indicated that workers did not receive protective equipment to work in the mine and sometimes children could work for 24 hours.
None of the tech giants has responded or made a public comment regarding the lawsuit.