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8 Nov 2021

DRC: Subcontracted workers on Cobalt mines supplying electric vehicle manufacturers report discrimination, abuse, low wages & precarious working conditions; incl co. comments

In November 2021, reports revealed the poor working conditions, abuse, and low wages workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo faced while working on Cobalt mines supplying electrical vehicle manufacturers.

An investigation by Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) and Centre d’Aide Juridico-Judiciaire (CAJJ), highlighted a link between the acceleration of electric vehicle production and serious labour rights abuses across five industrial mines largely run by Chinese companies. Workers reported low pay, excessive working hours, discrimination, unsafe working conditions and disregard for workers' health, violence, and degrading treatment. Many of the workers were employed via subcontracting firms, reported to be done in order to reduce labour costs, reduce legal liability, and prevent workers unionising. Cobalt from the five mines could be traced to well-known electric vehicle manufacturers.

Furthermore, in an investigation by the Guardian, workers who were often employed through subcontractors reported receiving wages as low as 30p an hour, no contract and precarious working conditions, and poor food rations. Workers also reported facing discrimination in mines, such as insults, physical abuse, and less pay than Chinese workers.

Company comments can be found below.