Electronics assembly workers in a still from the Film: "Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics"
The human cost of your new phone
Before you buy a new laptop, phone or tablet perhaps you should think about the effect on those who make them, and a new film has highlighted just that.
For decades Europe has exported the risk abroad. In Europe regulation has given workers some level of protection against hazards and stronger unions help stop some of the worst excesses. Now of course much of the production of consumer goods is done abroad, and no-where is that more noticeable that with electronics factories where workers come to the cities from the countryside, only to have their health destroyed by injuries or diseases such as leukaemia from exposure to benzene or other cancers from the range of toxic chemicals used.
A short film has been produced that outlines the human cost of a mobile phone. The main characters in the film are young workers, many of them teenagers, from China’s electric factories who are struggling to get compensation after being injured or poisoned. The workers have been filmed in hospitals, hotel rooms and at home in their villages where they often return, discarded by their employers. In some cases these accidents happen after the workers – who receive virtually no training regarding the hazards – have only been in their jobs for days or weeks.
The website for the full film, directed by US academic Heather White, is at whopaysfilm.org