Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker: Volkswagen fails to buy all the cobalt that children dig

Issue No. 2576

Volkswagen wants to get its hands on reserves of cobalt

Volkswagen wants to get its hands on reserves of cobalt (Pic: Hi-Res Images of Chemical Elements/Wikicommons)

Volkswagen came up with a new wheeze to make up for its last scam. It’s trying to buy the world’s cobalt production

But it has been shunned by traders in the metal.

VW Group, whose 12 brands include Porsche, Audi and Bentley, has pledged it will now spend

£50 billion to electrify 300 models by 2030.

It aims to be the biggest producer of electric vehicles by 2025.

So it needs cobalt for a lot of big batteries.

Volkswagen admitted two years ago to cheating on diesel emissions tests.

Volkswagen issued a tender last month seeking a minimum of five years of supply at a fixed price. Prices have jumped by more than 80 percent this year.

“They’re being arrogant because they’re automotive and they’re used to doing it,” one trader said.

There have been dramatic price rises. More than

60 percent of cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The country has long suffered from foreign exploitation.

Cobalt production in the DRC is dominated by a handful of producers including Glencore and China Molybdenum.

Cobalt is mined by hand before it is collected and sent to China.

Amnesty International said that process often involves child labour. No one knows exactly how many children work in Congo’s mining industry. Unicef in 2012 estimated that 40,000 boys and girls do so in the country’s south.

An estimated 100,000 cobalt miners in Congo use hand tools to dig hundreds of feet underground with little oversight and few safety measures.

Deaths and injuries are common. And the mining exposes locals to levels of toxic metals that appear to be linked to ailments that include breathing problems and birth defects.

Turmoil after workers walk out on the queen

More than a dozen of the queen’s kitchen staff have walked out amid “turmoil” at the Palace over the heavy demands placed on workers.

Trouble in paradise

Trouble in "paradise" (Pic: Diliff/Wikicommons)

Chefs and porters are said to have complained about a lack of time off and the expectation that they will work at several royal residences for the same salary.

Cooks often have to travel between Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, where functions are held. Prince Charles is said to use the staff when he throws events and the chefs also cook meals for William, Kate and Harry at Kensington Palace.

Troublemaker’s source in the palace said, “The place is in turmoil and the mood is getting steadily worse.

“People work all hours god sends for no extra pay. Nobody gets any time off or sees their families.

“They’ve concluded it’s not worth it any more.”

The queen also lost her most senior courtier.

Sir Christopher Geidt suddenly announced in July that he was leaving after 15 years’ service to the queen.

Child exploitation case in Rotherham not news

Two men were last week found guilty of child sexual offences that took place in 2015 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Acting detective sergeant Gareth Gent said the men “knew the girls were underage” and “groomed” them.

“They exploited these children, subjecting them to sexual abuse and in some cases raped them, all the while tightening their grip over the victims’ thoughts and feelings,” he added.

Ben Chivers pled guilty to raping a 12 year old, three counts of sexual activity with a 13 year old and three counts of sexual activity with a 14 year old.

Brett Ashley McLaughlan was charged with the sexual assault of a 14 year old and the rape of a 12 year old.

He was found not guilty of the assault and guilty of the rape.

The case made no national front pages, nor was it mentioned in any national newspapers.

The two men are white.

Strictly no mouse tattoos

BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing dancers were made to cover up their tattoos to perform a Walt Disney sequence on strict orders from the Disney Corporation. The company refused to allow any body inkings to be seen because they aren’t in keeping with its brand values.

Keeping it in the family

A family row has erupted over the assets of Cirencester Park, a 15,000-acre estate that is home to the earls of Bathurst.

The 8th Earl, known to his friends as “Barmy” Bathurst (pictured), died six years ago. Allen, the 9th Earl Bathurst, and Gloria, Dowager Countess Bathurst, are fighing over £13 million of family tat.

The court heard that the Dowager Countess has been attempting to gain entry to the Bathurst stately home presently occupied by her stepson.

The dispute centres on whether or not the countess has the right to the “use and enjoyment” of paintings, furniture and other objects of art or whether she should merely be paid an income.

Watchdog slams courts

A watchdog has highlighted failings in the system surrounding prisoners’ transfer to, and detention at, courts.

The report said the Ministry of Justice lacks a “unified and coherent” approach in relation to the welfare of thousands of “detained persons”.

Publishing his annual report, the Chairman of Lay Observers for England and Wales Tony Fitzsimons said, “What goes on in court custody and under escort in cellular vehicles is a largely hidden part of our justice system.”

Access to healthcare for individuals in custody at courts is often inadequate, the assessment said.

Who wants to be Grant Schapps's researcher?

Former Tory party chairman and failed coup organiser Grant Shapps has been advertising for a researcher.

Candidates for the job are expected to have “common sense” and “sound judgment”.

Which of the MP’s numerous identities you would be working for was unclear from the job listing.

"Do as I say, not as I do”

Maureen Watt is a health minister in the Scottish National Party government, who claimed £4.68 for a taxi ride of less than a mile.

She took the cab to deliver a vital speech on the benefits of physical activity.

The things they say

‘I reckon I could do that’

Ukip leader Henry Bolton offers to kill badgers

‘Unlike the feeble old parties, only Ukip has a leader who is mighty enough to kill a badger with his bare hands’

Ukip’s general secretary Paul Oakley on Henry Bolton

'Blair was a Trotskyist’

Mails on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens spent the weekend on Twitter explaining that Marxists took over the Labour Party in the 1990s

'What our present crop of Tory politicians generally lack in stature they compensate for with stupidity’

Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to Margaret Thatcher, reminisces about the good old days


Prince Charles describing fox hunting in a 2002 lobbying letter to Tony Blair that has been made public

'Don’t mess it up. Don’t mess it up’

Grime star Stormzy’s message to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

The Troublemaker
Tue 17 Oct 2017, 14:30 BST
Issue No. 2576
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.