By Vivian Woodell
The appalling working conditions in the factories of China producing the iPhone are mirrored in the African mines where major phone manufacturers source their minerals (Your new iPhone features include oppression, inequality - and vast profit, 19 September). In the Democratic Republic of
Congo workers toil for 12 hours a day with their bare hands to harvest coltan, a mineral used in smartphones and other consumer electronics. The miners who use picks and shovels to extract coltan in the sweltering heat are typically paid $5 a day, just above the minimum wage in the DRC of $3 a day. Many of the mines use illegal child labour and are controlled by militias who have used them to fund years of conflict in the country.
But there is a more ethical alternative to the major brands. The Fairphone is produced in a factory that ensures health and safety, as well as decent wages. It is also made with conflict-free minerals, which is a key starting point in avoiding some of the worst abuses of workers. Fairphone has been conceived and produced by a social enterprise which has worked hard to deliver transparency in both its production and supply chain. As a customer-owned co-operative, we are proud to work with Fairphone and be part of a movement working to improve conditions in the supply chain for mobile phones.