How much child labor is in german cars, economy, dw

The World Labor Organization (ILO) complains that child labor is not being tackled sufficiently. Amnesty International points out that German auto companies also benefit from child labor in Africa.

The allegations are addressed to leading electronics manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung or Sony, but also to German car companies such as BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen. According to Amnesty International, they should continue to benefit from child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That goes from a recently published report by the human rights organization entitled "Time to recharge" (Time to recharge).

In the cobalt mines of the Central African country, which, according to Amnesty, covers more than half of the world’s cobalt requirements, children from the age of seven risk their lives and their health. The human rights organization had already reported on this in early 2016 "This is what we die for" (We die for that) pointed out.

Amnesty explains that the increasing demand for efficient energy storage in electric cars, smartphones and for renewable energies also increases the demand for the cobalt used for these technologies. However, of the 29 companies examined, none of them met their due diligence requirements for the disclosure and prevention of human rights violations.

Buyers of German cars promote child labor?

According to the report, the car industry has particular shortcomings. BMW got it "improved in some aspects" and do best among automakers, but continue to show "clear shortcomings". Volkswagen and Daimler pointed accordingly "Serious defects" on. Some companies have improved the controls of the cobalt supply chains, but are still far from being able to carry out comprehensive checks, said Amnesty expert Mathias John.

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Smartphone and laptop manufacturers benefit from child labor

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All companies lack transparency. Therefore, there is a risk that the buyer of a smartphone, laptop or electric car unwittingly promotes child labor, says Amnesty. The new federal government must therefore "finally make mandatory compliance with due diligence". The topic therefore also belongs in the current exploratory negotiations for one Jamaica coalition.

All cobalt processing suppliers must meet their human rights due diligence requirements in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for minerals. This applies from the mine to smelting to the production site. In the event of human rights violations, they would have to take countermeasures and remedy the situation.

ILO chief: "We don’t want slavery anymore!"

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the international community has slackened again in the fight against child labor. The number of working children has dropped by almost 100 million since 1997. However, ILO Director General Guy Ryder criticized this development in Buenos Aires in the past four years. The world conference on the sustainable elimination of child labor will take place there until Thursday, in which representatives of governments, employers’ associations, trade unions and aid organizations from 193 countries will take part.

Just under half of the boys and girls who are forced to work do so under dangerous conditions. At the opening of the event, Ryder called on the states to set the course "not to tolerate the unbearable". There is great uncertainty about changes in the labor market. "But one thing is certain: we no longer want working children and modern slavery", said the ILO chief.

Experts estimate that every tenth child in the world is forced to work. In total there are 152 million working girls and boys, and around 200 million adults unemployed person were faced. The goal is to free children from forced labor by 2025.


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Christina Cherry
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