Are you really bothered about child labour

  carver 10:52 17 Oct 2012

Reason I ask is that we buy all these new gadgets, things like new iPhone/ipad or even any new smart phone but would you really give them up after reading enter link description here about this.

We wouldn't or shouldn't allow that sort of thing to happen in this country and there would be a great deal of outrage if a firm was found to be employing under age children but it happens in China and we still buy the products.

Reason I picked on this story is that Apple like to show a caring face to the world but seem more concerned about profit than child labour.

  Forum Editor 11:03 17 Oct 2012

"it happens in China and we still buy the products."

Yes, it does, and of course we do.

We fuel the child labour problem because we constantly search for the cheapest deal whenever we buy something. We want the technology, or the trainers, or the power tools at the lowest price we can find, and we spend a lot of time researching. It forces manufacturers to try to find ways of driving production costs lower and lower, and many Western technology companies outsource supply to South East Asia. There the temptation to employ very young workers is huge - families need every bit of income they can find, and they happily see their children going off to assemble electronic components, or shoes, or whatever is being made for (mainly) foreign companies.

We're the culprits, but I don't see many threads in our forums asking 'where can I get a laptop that has been made without exploiting young workers?' Usually it's 'what's the best value for money laptop deal?'

  Aitchbee 11:30 17 Oct 2012

Many (if not most) of the techno gadgets I buy, including two laptops, have got a Made-in-Germany label on them [from either Aldi or Lidl) ... I wonder if Medion outsource their products from South East Asia?

  Strawballs 11:39 17 Oct 2012

Just because they were assembled in Germany most of the components would have come from factories in China

  Forum Editor 12:06 17 Oct 2012


Most laptops are constructed in one of the big manufacturers in Taiwan or China, and shipped as completed Chassis to Europe or America for case fitting and branding.

Your Dell or HP machine - for example - will have been made by one of several companies you have never heard of; companies like Compal, Quanta and Wistron.

  Nontek 12:55 17 Oct 2012

At the age of 11, one year after the end of the war, times were hard. I was one of eleven children, My two older brothers and two eldest sisters were all in the Forces and away from home, the rest of us were at home.

Another two sisters were 'away' In Service, I used to get up at 4am each morning, walk to a local Newsagents, load up 4-500 newspapers onto a shop bicycle with a large iron carrier on the front, and yes that was heavy - then ride a couple of miles mostly uphill, to what was then known as a labour camp housing hundreds of workers, mostly Polish and other nationalities, where I would set-up shop in one of the wooden huts to sell the papers. I nearly always sold-out, so the homeward journey was much easier, empty and downhill. After that, home for breakfast, then walk to school!

I did this for about eighteen months, in all weathers for the princely weekly sum of £1 and ten shillings, out of which I got half-a-crown, Mum getting the rest to help feed/clothe the family. I was rich! And no regrets, except that, my violin has just broken - awe shucks!

So no, I am not too bothered about children working as long as they get paid for it, though I do deplore some of the conditions in which they are made to work in Asian/Far Eastern countries.

  Aitchbee 13:18 17 Oct 2012

Nontek ... I hope it's not a Stradivarius ...

  Forum Editor 13:29 17 Oct 2012

"Foxconn took action as soon as it became aware of the situation."

Of course it did.

Saying that Foxconn has a less-than-perfect record when it comes to labour conditions and relations would be the understatement of the year.

Back in February of this year a watchdog organisation that was monitoring working conditions in factories making products for Apple (at Apple's request)said that it had uncovered "tons of issues" at the Foxconn Technology Group plant in Shenzhen, China.

Foxconn is huge - the company employs 1.2 million people in China, 32,000 of them are students. The students aren't given any option - they are instructed to work for Foxconn by their teachers, who in turn are instructed by communist party officials. It's all about keeping the big orders (10 million iPhones at a time) coming in.

Various investigations at Foxconn and other Apple suppliers have revealed illegal amounts of overtime, crowded working conditions, under-age workers, improper disposal of hazardous waste and in one case (Foxconn) an explosion that killed four people and injured more than 100 others.

Earlier this year 100 Foxconn employees threatened to jump from the factory roof in protest at pay and working conditions. In 2010 Foxconn was forced to raise workers' wages by 70% after stories about atrocious working conditions forced Apple to threaten the withdrawal of its lucrative business.

Recently 2000 workers went on the rampage at the factory, an incident that resulted in the deaths of ten people. Foxconn said the riot started when a personal dispute between two men escalated. Some escalation over a personal difference!

Big Chinese factories are notorious for bad working conditions, and it will continue as long as Western consumers demand cheaper and cheaper technology.

  wee eddie 13:47 17 Oct 2012

I am, once again, sticking my neck out.

In any country where a single Wage Earner is unable to provide for a (Usually his) family and the partner needs to be at home to look after the younger children, it is churlish of us to deny youngsters the right to help support their family.

What would be more positive, would be for us to monitor and improve that Conditions and Standards under which Youngsters are employed.

I have used the word Youngsters, instead of Children, as the second word carries a lot of emotive baggage and the definition of a Child varies over time and from country to country.

In the days when Children were employed to sweep chimneys, it was the conditions under which they worked and the pitiful remuneration that they received that were the real problem, as were those that were employed in the Mills.

Kids at Fruit picking, was the norm for years and our school holidays owe their dates to the potato harvest.

Banning Child Labour is not the answer. Improving the conditions of all workers is the way to go.

  Forum Editor 14:13 17 Oct 2012

"Banning Child Labour is not the answer."

Of course it is - children are not equipped, physically or mentally, to work long hours in poor conditions. They are unable to negotiate for themselves, and are extremely vulnerable to exploitation.

Saying that it is 'churlish' to deny youngsters the right to help support their family doesn't advance the argument. In China these 'youngster's as you euphemistically call them are not working in factories because they choose to do it, they have no option. The Chinese government forces them to work so the Chinese economy can benefit from the orders that flood into Chinese manufacturing facilities.

All the monitoring in the world isn't going to help if the State decides that it's desirable for 'youngsters' to work in factories.

I have visited a factory - in the countryside just outside Beijing - where children as young as 13 and 14 were working in dreadful conditions making decorated metal vases. They sat at long tables under flickering fluorescent lights, applying intricate enamel designs before the vases went to a kiln for firing. It was a cold,gloomy,unfriendly place, and it made me feel distinctly uncomfortable, especially when I was told that by the time they are 16 or 17 the children are 'no good' because their eyesight has been so badly affected by the working conditions.

That kind of thing goes on all over China and South-East-Asia.

  Nontek 14:23 17 Oct 2012


Stradivarius .... actually if I remember correctly, it was a cardboard box, a stick and a piece of string!

FE - apologies if I am being too frivolous on a serious thread - though the aforementioned was factual.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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