Child labour must not be the price for UK’s shift to electric vehicles, Australia’s supermarket supplies

Responding to the UK government’s commitment to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040, Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International, said:

“This is good news for the environment and for air quality, but drivers should be aware that while electric cars may be green, they’re not always clean.

“Our research shows that there is a significant risk of cobalt mined by children and adults in appalling conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo ending up in the batteries of electric cars. Workers in the DRC, earning as little as one dollar a day and at risk of fatal accidents and illness, must not pay the price for the UK’s shift to electric cars.

“Drivers will want to know that their new cars are not linked to the suffering of child labourers in the DRC, but there is a worrying lack of transparency across the car manufacturing industry, with many leading names failing to disclose information about their cobalt supply chains.

“With car makers in the spotlight today, we are calling on them to make public the steps they are taking to ensure that their supply chains are not tainted by human rights abuses, so that consumers’ minds can be put at rest.”

Child labour in Australian supply chains

Amnesty International is also campaigning for transparency around child labour in the supply chains of many products containing palm oil sold in Australian supermarkets, including Woolworths, Coles and Aldi.

Amnesty International researchers have shown that children as young as eight are undertaking back-breaking and dangerous work on palm oil plantations, while companies producing the well-known big-brand products containing it turn profits in the billions.

“It is time for Woolworths, Coles and Aldi to stand up for what is right and we are calling on all customers to make it happen by taking action to voice their opposition to child labour in the supply chains of products stocked in these retail giants,” said Diana Sayed, Amnesty International Australia Crisis Campaigns Coordinator.