Did forced Uyghur labour make our Nokia phones? 😲

Hi all, Yes, that's a provocative discussion title! Is it an interesting question? Maybe you never really thought about it before.

Did forced Uyghur labour make our Nokia phones? 😲

madbilly madbilly
Super User  / 

Hi all,

Yes, that's a provocative discussion title! Is it an interesting question? Maybe you never really thought about it before. Honestly, I don't know the answer to the question in the title, but here's what I learnt from my investigations.

This issue was reported a month or so ago but I think it went largely unnoticed to the growing significance of the coronavirus pandemic. Research was done by an Australian NGO and it revealed that there are some factories in China where, allegedly, people from the Uyghur minority ethnic group there are forced to work as part of their "re-education". There's a whole load of background information to this which I won't repeat or summarise I'll just give you the links to the report:

As you read through you will notice the names of some companies you might recognise: Foxconn and Nokia. Oh! 😳 Note however that HMD Global is not specifically listed, however the report discusses brands as well as vendors, so referring to Nokia could be considered to include HMD. There are also other brands you will probably recognise but I won't give them the benefit of the advertising here 😉

There's a huge and complex supply chain involved in the manufacture of any modern consumer electronics smartphone and smartphones have one of the most complex, so it may not be practicable to ever know the answer to the question "Did forced Uyghur labour make our Nokia phones?" Yet if you dig deeper you will see that the report identifies factories which make various components for smartphones, and whilst the report does not explicitly say that these components are used in Nokia phones we can imagine that some of these components could have easily ended up in our phones.

HMD themselves have a very clear stance on forced labour which is explained in their "UK Modern Slavery statement":

I feel fairly sure that if HMD did discover that anyone in their supply chain was being forced to work that they will have some severe penalties in their contracts with their suppliers. Their modern slavery statement does say that:

We are committed to report on our findings and we endeavour to tackle this issue transparently.

So, it would be great if HMD could start this transparent reporting now and tell us if forced Uyghur labour did make our Nokia phones, or not.

And just to finish off the post, here's a couple of videos from my other favourite phone maker:

FYI, the living wage bonus referenced is €1.50 per phone. That's all, it seems like a tiny amount to pay extra for a smartphone to make sure that the people making it earn a decent income.

Cheers 🙂

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