The Mmajority of people like iPhone products, just think about its features, the frame, camera, appearance, and any other element that interests you. Do you need an iPhone or want to upgrade to a new model? Probably yes you only need $300-400 dollars to have one. See it is easy for you to get one, but have you ever wondered how or what it takes to manufacture such a phone or event the minerals required to make an ipPhone. Many consumers do not bother about these questions while in reality the competition and scarcity of these materials have exposed other people to mass killings, forceful removal from their lands, forced labour and poverty in Democratic Republic of Congo (Aljazeera, 2016). On the other hand, technological companies in china have created a poor working environment for their employees who assemble the necessary components used in making an ipPhone. An iPhone is a marvellous electronic gadget but someone in china and Congo has paid a price for it.
Tantalum, tungsten, and tin are important minerals used to make electronic products. These minerals mainly originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo (Aljazeera, 2016). The locals work in the mines and then sell it to middleman or manufacturers. However, this is not the case, DRC has been a marred with conflict and civil war for a long time. People have been forcibly removed from their lands by warlords so that they can access the mines and sell it in foreign markets. The people in the mountain regions have suffered at the hands of the warlords; moreover, the miners who produce nearly half of the minerals in the world live in horrifying conditions. The minerals are then unscrupulously exported to giant tech companies for the production of electronic products.
Giant tech companies such as Apple have refuted claims that it uses conflict minerals to create its chips. Over a long period of time, it has been difficult to trace the origin of these materials. The Congo government has faced challenges in streamlining the sector which has been capitalised by rebels and warlords (Aljazeera, 2016). As a result of human rights violation and an attempt to promote free and fair trade, governments from the USA and Europe passed a resolution namely, section 1502 of Dodd-Frank Act that required companies to disclose the origin of their minerals (Aljazeera, 2016). Under this law, the exporters are required to use tags which trace the origin of the mineral. However, the law has negatively affected the people of Congo because mainly companies left the region and the prices plummeted. The law has significantly aided smugglers who fraudulently move the goods s across the Rwanda border using pilfered tags (Aljazeera, 2016).
The tech companies have faced difficulties in implementing the Dodd-Frank Act which has increased the demand for the minerals and have contemplated leaving the Congo (Winsor, 2015). Companies have also faced difficulties in importing minerals from other regions especially when considering that the Katanga Region in the Congo has only been cleared as conflict free. Locally, many countries are yet to comply with the Dodd-Frank Law.
As we emphasize with the people working in the Congo mines there is another category of people suffering in China when assembling the products to make ipPhones. The company recently launched its new product iPhone 7 and highlighted elegant features of the phone however it did not mention the conditions in which the phone was made (Chakrabortty, 2016). Apple has contracted Foxconn Company in China to assemble iPhone. The company is well documented for mistreating its workers; it’s only recent that fourteen of its employees committed suicide. The employees mainly in their teens are overworked and it has been reported that one of Faxconn factory in Longhua produced 137,000 iPhones (Chakrabortty, 2016).
The employees are known to work for 12 hours shifts with minimal rest, moreover, some employees in other sections work while standing four up to 7 hours in a shift. The company has dormitories for its employees. It is evident that Faxconn mistreats it employees and expose them to poor working conditions. Upon public outcry, Apple pledged that it will work with Faxconn to improve the working standards of its employees however no evidence has been provided to support their pledge (Chakrabortty, 2016). Humanitarian organisations have investigated these claims in Pegatron which is one of Apple’s assembler. The report has shown the consistent abuse of labour rights. The Shanghai local government intervened on behalf of its citizens (Chakrabortty, 2016). However, these companies have reduced employees’ benefits such as health insurance while its trading partner Apple has remained quiet.
In a conclusion, Apple is one of the richest companies in the world making huge profits. The company has failed to establish grants or even measures to ensure that its assemblers observe labour rights of its employees. The company has also failed to ensure that its minerals are purely conflicting free. The company has demonstrated no interest in helping people from these regions but only endeavoured to satisfy its clientele thirst.
Chakrabortty, A. (2016, September 19). Your new iPhone’s features include oppression, inequality – and vast profit. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/19/your-new-iphone-features-oppression-inequality-vast-profit
Winsor, M. (2015, September 18). Congo’s Conflict Minerals: US Companies Struggle to Trace Tantalum, Tungsten, Tin, Gold in Their Products. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/congos-conflict-minerals-us-companies-struggle-trace-tantalum-tungsten-tin-gold-their-2102323
Aljazeera. (2016, March 3). Conflicted: The Fight over Congo’s Minerals. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/2015/11/conflicted-fight-congo-minerals-151118084541495.html