Archive for the 'Child Labor' Category

29
Dec
14

New Year’s Resolution

Every year we start out with good intentions of bringing in this brand new year right, right? Whether it is eating healthier, exercising more, losing weight, or being a better person, the new year begins well enough, but then the enthusiasm fades away with time. For me in the past few years, it has been buying American products or more importantly avoiding buying goods from countries that use child labor and unfair labor practices. I have been great shopping for clothes made in the USA, but for the other products it’s about 50% – but that requires extra work, because there are so many products that are no longer made in the USA, and there may no choice but to buy “made in China”. If this is the case, and I don’t absolutely need that item, I go without. As the year goes on, sometimes I get lazier, and might not even check the place of origin labels. But the new year is about to start, it is time to get re-energized, and I will re-up for renewal of these resolutions.

Inspiration (to start a New Year’s resolution) comes from all sorts of different ways. This year what has renewed my commitment is an old Art Young political cartoon, which I saw in a Theodore Roosevelt biography. Now, this particular cartoon was done in the early 1900’s, and was referring to U.S. use of child labor, fast forward 100 years later to 2014, it is still about American greed but child labor is being used in other countries. (The sign in the upper right says: “Child Labor Investigators,Sentimentalists, Charity Organizations and all meddling old women – KEEP OUT”)

Political cartoon condemning child labor by Art Young

Political cartoon condemning child labor by Art Young

It seems that sometimes a political cartoon says so much more than a lengthy treatise that nobody reads. So, with that, I have added a few more political cartoons about child labor and corporate greed.

"Safe Toys" from China

“Safe Toys” from China

The result of outsourcing

The result of outsourcing

Another cartoon from Art Young cartoon showing child labor feeding corporate greed.

Another cartoon from Art Young cartoon showing child labor feeding corporate greed.

Toys Made in China

Toys Made in China

Corporate executives ponder their new hires.

Corporate executives ponder their new hires.

Contemporary cartoon showing that the top 10% of income gets 90% of all the profits

Contemporary cartoon showing that the top 10% of income gets 90% of all the profits

The United States is a great place to live in this day and age, but there are things that we need to be concerned about: the worsening income inequality (the worst since the 1920’s); the continued erosion of the middle class with the continued outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to developing countries to increase corporate profits; and as we buy products from slave labor countries we are, indeed, endorsing their practices. Continue to seek out where things are made –  whether it is food or products. And buy American if you are in favor of: better quality products; fair wages; and keeping employing your neighbor and yourself employed. Have a happy New Year.

 

 

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17
Aug
13

Admit it. You love cheap clothes. And you don’t care about child slave labour – The Observer

Admit it. You love cheap clothes. And you don’t care about child slave labour | World news | The Observer. This is an excerpt from the article published by the Observer on July 27, 2013 written by Gethin Chamberlain: ” …(Western/American) consumers want to feel that they are being ethical. But they don’t want to pay more. They are prepared to believe in the brands they love. Companies know this. They know if they make the right noises about behaving ethically, their customers will turn a blind eye.

Children rescued from Bangladesh factories

Rescued children from trafficking, waiting for parents, in Bihar, India

So they come down on suppliers highlighted by the media. They sign up to the certification scheme… Look, they say, we are good guys now. We audit our factories. We have rules, codes of conduct, mission statements. We are ethical. BUT THEY ARE NOT. What they have done is purchase an ethical fig leaf.

In the last few years, companies have gotten smarter. It is rare now to find children in the top level of the supply chain, because brands know this is PR suicide. But the children are still there, stitching away in the backstreets of the slums.”

Editorial Conclusion

Companies could act truly ethical if it really had to. But, at this time, it is much easier to say false reassurances and blow smoke over the media after each disaster in Bangladesh or elsewhere than make real reforms. The companies realize that their is a lot of child labor going on, it is a very well-known and well-documented fact, yet they don’t want you to know that they know all this – they believe that the American public is so gullible. Until the consumer actually stops buying their products will companies change their behavior.

In July, Walmart, the GAP, Kohl’s and other US retailers signed an agreement as an alternative to the European agreement (according to the New York Times) to make Bangladesh factories safer. It is much less comprehensive, and doesn’t promise any definitive monetary commitments to Bangladesh. Plus, the onus is on Bangladeshi factory owners to improve their workplaces. Look, this American plan is pure smoke and mirrors. The American companies are again trying to say it is not their problem, even though they are directly employing these factories and factory workers.

Maybe we are seeing inroads with ethical spending. It could be that Walmart, one of the worst offenders of ethical behavior, which has recently posted disappointing sales, may be the victim of boycotts of consumers that feel ethically compromised by shopping there. It is just possible. Maybe, or it could just be wishful thinking. I, also, like to think that China’s disappointing export numbers are due to more people buying American.

Buy ethically made products, avoid products that are made unethically and the stores that promote them. Buy American.

14
Jun
12

Child Labor post per Made in usa challenge

| made in usa challenge. This is a post from Made In USA Challenge regarding child labor. The International Labor organization estimates that 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in child labor, the majority involving exposures to hazardous conditions.

World Day Against Child Labor 2012

june 10 end child labor day

A Child’s Work is in a School Not a Sweatshop!

The job of a child is to grow, learn and play. But millions of children worldwide will only know the inside of a factory. In recognition of International End Child Labor Day, I have devised an acronym strategy for consumers looking to avoid supporting child labor in their purchases. LABEL is an easy way for us to do our part to fight child labor around the globe. It all starts with checking the label!

Learn about the issue of child labor.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in forced child labor, the majority involving exposures to hazardous conditions. Child labor is the direct result not only of poverty, but also our demand for low-cost goods. It is our responsibility as consumers to be educated and take necessary steps toward preventing the support of child labor through our purchases.

Avoid products known to be produced by child labor in certain countries.

The US Department of Labor produces an annual list of products they have found to be produced through forced child labor in specified countries. I tried to abstract the more commonly purchased items and the more common countries of origin.

Carpets: Afghanistan, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan

Cotton: Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Pakistan, Paraguay, Turkey, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

Electronics: China

Garments: Argentina, China, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Thailand

Shoes: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia

Toys: China

Buy local, made in USA, made in Canada, or made in Europe.

I propose that buying more American products is a viable beginning step in defeating child labor. Child labor exists in some form in every country, including the US. But buying from countries with strict child labor laws, such as the US, Canada and European countries offers some reassurance that children were not exploited in the production of a product.

Educate others about how to address this problem.

The key to ending the cycle of poverty that fuels child labor is education. We need to increase awareness and put pressure on the companies we purchase from to improve their labor practices. If parents in third world countries can make enough to support their families, their kids can go to school instead of work. And education for kids means better opportunities for their future.

Look at labels for these certifications.

 

 

Good Weave- third party organization monitoring carpet factories

 

 

Fair Trade Certified- product was made in accordance with fair trade policies, including no child labor

 

 

 

 

UNITE-HERE- Product was made by unionized workers

 

Unfortunately, there is no official label to designate a child labor-free product. This is another example of why it is so important to increase awareness. We as consumers need to speak up in stores, and to corporations, and voice our concerns about the labor that goes into the products we buy. And remember, check the “LABEL”!

What are you doing to try to avoid buying goods made through child labor? What do you think is the best way to tackle this global problem?

Resources:

sweatfree.org
cleanclothes.org
greenamerica.org
ilo.org
www.dol.gov




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