The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Cell Phones:
Made of Sweat and Blood

Jan 5, 2015

The profits of the cell phone giants Nokia, Alcatel, Samsung, and Apple are built on the blood of workers. This was what a French program called “Cash Investigation,” that aired on Tuesday, November 4 showed about the conditions of production of three cell phone elements.

In a factory at the center of China where cell phone screens are made, half the workforce is children as young as 12 years old. They are subjected to days and nights of ten hours of work, for ridiculously low wages. The factory bosses use this workforce because it’s less costly, but also more docile than the men and women employed previously.

To make cell phone capacitors, tantalum is extracted from the mines of Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In one of these mines, or rather these holes, in Rubaya, 3,000 people work day and night. At the bottom of the mineshafts the heat is suffocating, 110 degrees, and there is a not enough oxygen. Numerous miners die in collapses. One miner who escaped explained that in this case, the collapse blocked off the only exit. “The mine is their tomb,” he said.

The magnets for the vibrators or the micro-cameras are made of neodyne, the most magnetic chemical element. In the principal mine in the world for this mineral, in Baotou in China, a lake of acid has formed. The radioactivity is unbearable, and dangerous compounds like arsenic are present everywhere. Cancer has multiplied and the neighboring city has been wiped off the map.

All this happens by way of a filter of multiple shell companies, which permit the big companies to wash their hands. This murderous exploitation isn’t just reserved for cell phones, but is in the very nature of a system thirsty for profits.