Silenced to Deliver: Mobile Phone Manufacturing in China and the Philippines

MakeITfair, SOMO and SwedWatch, September 2008, 76 p. (pdf)

, by Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)

The mobile phone industry is often presented as a clean, unproblematic industry, but makeITfair’s report ’Silenced to Deliver’ shows that this is not the case. Young electronics workers handle chemicals without protective gear. They work inhumane overtime hours to cover basic needs and are punished if they make mistakes. In the export processing zones in Asia where the factories are located, protests are often brutally suppressed.

“As the prices of mobile phones steadily decline, the factory workers that manufacture our phones in China and the Philippines continue to pay a very high price. Young women in Asian factories are denied their basic rights and have few or no means of improving their situation since independent unions are often prohibited”, says Sara Nordbrand, researcher at SwedWatch.

Every second, 36 mobile phones are manufactured. Half of them are made in China. Asia has become the world’s electronics factory, and most of the mobile phones we buy are produced by female workers aged 16 to 30.

MakeITfair has investigated labour conditions at six factories that produce components for Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG, Sony Ericsson and Apple’s iPhone in China and the Philippines. The research revealed that working conditions there violate national laws, conventions of the International Labour Organisation as well as the mobile phone companies’ own codes of conduct on issues such as working hours and use of hazardous chemicals.

* Read the report "Silenced to Deliver: Mobile Phone Manufacturing in China and the Philippines" (pdf)

* Besides the report ‘Silenced to Deliver’ SOMO also publishes the paper ‘Mobile Connections: Supply Chain Responsibility of 5 Mobile Phone Companies’ (pdf, 8p., September 2008).