What do Kindle, Fridge Magnetic Toys, Zippity, Learn & Groove Toys, Tag , Scout, Leapster, Didj, ClickStart, My First Computer, LeapFrog, and LeapPad have in common? A very meager general D- score on the Free2Work score card. Free2Work grades are a measure of a brand’s efforts to make sure that child and forced labor do not exist in its supply chain. They are based on publicly available information and data self-reported by companies. These electronics brands fail on all fronts: inadequate policies, lack of transparency & traceability, insufficient monitoring & training, and, last but not least feeble scores on worker rights.
These days, we can access all kinds of information through our electronic devices. Yet not much information is available on the places from where the devices themselves come. Copper and tin, as well as lesser-known minerals like cobalt, cassiterite, coltan, and wolframite, are all raw materials in electronics. They are also all goods linked to forced or child labor globally. Mining is a particularly hazardous sector as it is often physically dangerous. Workers must handle heavy loads, are exposed to toxic chemicals, and must use of dangerous tools. In places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, miners are forced by armed groups to work, and the profits of these mines fuel armed conflict in-country. As the minerals are refined and transformed into the electronic goods that we recognize, worker rights are often further violated in the factories where these products are assembled. Unsafe working conditions, discrimination, attacks on the right to organize, long hours, low wages, and forced and child labour have all been identified in electronics manufacturing.
Read more on the Free2Work rating methodology.