There is a major issue with sweatshops and child labor if you are going to do business on a global scale. Part of this problem deals with the fact that we have different rules and regulations here in the United States, compared to other parts of the world.
According to the International Labour Organization, Child labor is work that harms the child’s well-being and hinders his or her education, development and future livelihood, and that the minimum age for employment should not be less than the age for completing compulsory schooling, and in general not less than 15 years. They also stated that developing countries have the option to set the minimum age at 14 and 12 for “light work” as a transitional measure. Many developing countries, however, have chosen to adopt the minimum ages of 15 or even 16, so it is essential to check national legislation on minimum age to ensure compliance with the national law.
It is astounding to read that even the United States is also a part of the problem, despite our current laws. According to businessinsider.com, we ranked 141st and considered a medium risk alongside Cuba, Georgia, and Kuwait according to a recent study on child labor risks. This article also states that some of the world’s worst child labor offenders are for companies that source goods from the developing world: Phillipines, India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brazil, among others. In most cases, these children are either put to work to supplement family income. Some are even bought and sold as slaves! In some countries they are even involved in sex trafficking!
Another issue we have in global business are sweatshops. Sweatshops have a poor working environment, very low pay, and usually no benefits. The United States used to have several sweat shops until we changed our rules and regulations, but currently countries like Indonesia or Sri Lanka don’t have such rules and regulations. According to an article on theguardian.com, In Sri Lanka, workers were forced to work up to 130 hours per month in overtime, and anyone asking to leave would be verbally harassed, and in the Philippines, 24% of workers said that they did not receive additional pay for their overtime. Typical hours can be 6am to 8pm.
Several companies have gotten into a lot of trouble with having a lot of their supplies being outsourced to such places including Nike, Walmart, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, GAP, Converse, Banana Republic, Land’s End, Levi’s, among many others.
So what can we do to solve these issues with child labor and sweatshops? Personally, I feel that a company has a right to do whatever they want to do by their own free will even though it can be wrong at times, and we have a right to do business with such places or not after hearing their poor business practices. For example, I remember learning a couple years ago that Abercrombie and Fitch markets provocative clothes to teens, and so it causes me to not want to set foot in the store, rather than push our government to ban them from doing such things. Eventually businesses will figure out why they are losing money. Most people tend to think more legislation and government control is key to getting people and businesses to do the right thing, and I can understand why. However, I think the best way to solve the problem with child labor and sweatshops is awareness. If we make people aware of what these businesses are doing, most people I don’t think will do business with these companies, and will stop buying their stuff until the companies changed their habits.
McKenna, Luke Child Labor Is Making A Disturbing Resurgence Around The World businessinsider.com, 06 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2015
Business and Child Labour ilo.org, 01 Sep. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2015
Nisen, Max How Nike Solved Its Sweatshop Problem businessinsider.com, 09 May. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015
Bunting, Madeleine Sweatshops are still supplying high street brands theguardian.com, 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Feb. 2015