How Do Apple, Nintendo And Kogan Score On The ‘Slavery Index’?

How Do Apple, Nintendo And Kogan Score On The ‘Slavery Index’?

We’re all dimly aware that the smartphones, fitness trackers, tablets and consoles we spend hundreds of dollars on are assembled by workers where people are very poorly paid. A new analysis by Baptist World Aid Australia highlights just how poorly: of the 39 companies examined, only one was paying a wage high enough to ensure workers could meet their basic needs.

Picture: Getty Images

The charitable organisation commissioned an investigation into “Exploitation and Slavery in Electronics”, examining manufacturer track records on issues including paying a living wage; allowing collective bargaining; policies on forced labour, child labour and the use of underpaid subcontractors; monitoring the behaviour of contracted suppliers; and tracking the supply chain to avoid dubious components such as materials reclaimed from unsafe dumps by child workers.

Performance, unsurprisingly, varied widely. But one area where no-one distinguished themselves was in paying a living wage — one that covers meeting very basic essential needs. Only Nokia was found to meet that criteria, guaranteeing that workers would earn above the local minimum wage.

Note that the minimum wage is often below the actual living wage. As the report says: “the legal minimum wage in many developing countries is not sufficient for a worker and their dependents to meet their basic living needs. Legal minimum wages may keep workers and their families in poverty or force them into working excessive overtime to make ends meet.”

The report also gave an overall letter grade to each company, combining all the criteria examined. No company scored an A, but seven (Acer, Apple, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Samsung and Toshiba) scored a B. Here’s the full set of overall grades (where A is the best, F is the worst):

Company Grade Company Grade Company Grade Company Grade
Acer B- Hewlett Packard B Microsoft B+ Samsung B
Amazon Kindle D Hisense F Motorola Mobility B SanDisk C-
Apple B+ Hitachi C Motorola Solutions B- Sharp C
Asus D- HTC D Nintendo D Soniq D-
Blackberry C- Huawei D- Nokia B+ Sony C
Canon D- IBM C- Olympus C- TEAC D-
Dell B- Intel B Oracle D TomTom C
Dick Smith Electronics D Kogan D- Palsonic F Toshiba B-
Fujitsu D+ Lenovo D- Panasonic B Woolworths C+
Garmin C LG Electronics B+ Philips C+

Lots of work to be done then. How could this be fixed? A slight rise in the price we pay for goods passed on to those workers could see dramatic increases in wages — bear in mind these people are often being paid less than a dollar per hour. Hit the link for the organisation’s guide to how to purchase electronics ethically.

Behind The Bar Code


  • Anyone else have the image of Bart Simpson in their head when they read the Kogan one? “I got a D minus, I passed, I passed!!”

  • Unsurprising to see the cheap shitty brands scoring so low, that’s why they’re so cheap (and you get what you pay for!)!

    It is disappointing to see some major, higher end, players still scoring low, however. Looking at you, Amazon, Canon, Fujitsu, IBM, Lenovo, Nintendo, Oracle….

  • Another useless guide.

    All the companies that got the “D” ranking basically got it because they didn’t respond to a survey done by “Baptist World Aid Australia”.

    A low ranking doesn’t mean they don’t support good conditions, it just means they release information at their own accord not at the whim of a third party.

    It’s more disappointing that when I had to provide my details to “Download the Full Report”, it’s nothing more than a 1 page pdf. Not you know, and actual report.

  • What is this report? What was their methodology? How the hell would baptist world aid have idea idea about the supply chain of any of these companies? as if these companies would allow baptist world aid into their factories? do they even have anyone in china? does the person from baptist world aid have any business experience at all? did you evaluate the report before publishing this? I wonder what credibility “baptist world aid” has in assessing complicated global electronics supply chains – did you ask them?

    • I have asked them for a copy of the actual ‘report’ not just the results table. I’m genuinely interested in the details, but not holding my breath they will make it available.

      • Hey lutomes and whathe, I was one of the co-authors on the report. If you want to shoot me your email address ([email protected]) I’m happy to flick you the full report. Sad to hear that you weren’t able to download the full report from the site. That’s odd and I’ll follow it up. The report itself covers the methodology we used in some detail. We did try to contact companies for a response multiple times over multiple mediums if they didn’t get back to us. We also surveyed all the publicly available information that they had. A number of companies didn’t respond but had substantial information available on their ethical supply chain policies and received strong grades.

    • Nokia got a B+ which is one of only 4 groups to get that rating. The group that ran the chart would never give out an A because if they did it would be saying that enough has been done, when the point is everyone can improve.

      • Thanks for correcting me. I was misreading the table. I mistook Huawei’s score for Nokia’s.

    • They got a B+, the score is on the right hand side of the company name. Huawei got the D- you’re speaking of.

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