Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Child Labor

According to Andrew W. Savitz’s book “The Triple Bottom Line”, “A sustainable business ought to be able to measure, document, and report a positive ROI on all three bottom lines - economic, environmental, and social” (Savitz, 2006, p. 8). Child labor is connected with all three. Child labor is a worldwide problem. It is connected with economy, because, for children, they must earn money for their livelihood in some third world country. Companies use child labor in their factories, because children do not need high wages. So, companies can get more profits. Also, in environment, most working children are working in very dangerous workplaces, because for more profits, companies do not try to improve working environments. I think that some companies, including Nike, think just how they can make more profits, so they are making these problems. Definitely, child labor is a moral problem. I think that people should keep children from workplaces for their own benefit. There are some solutions. First, we need an international guard system for preventing child labor. Second, we have to concentrate on children’s entire life situations. Finally, every person has to lead in fixing this problem.

When I searched in the internet to decide on my writing topic, I found child labor, and became interested in it. Child labor is “the gainful employment of children below an age determined by law or custom” (Child Labor, 2006, para. 1). Child labor has usually happened in the third world. Big companies, such as Nike, use underage workers to make more profits. Children are working in a very dangerous environment. In Child Labour (n.d, p. 1), more than 250 million children work in the companies. Also, most of all children work in the third world such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. To prevent this problem, in 1919, the International Labour Organizations, ILO, was created. In 1966, the child labor problem was to be world’s issue, and many associations were trying to protect children. In 1989, the UN selected to help the rights of children. There is a lot of discussion over whether child labor had to be prevented or not. Some people say that making laws is not enough to prevent child labor (Child Labour, n.d, p. 4). However, other people say that if we stop labor violations, it is a cause for unemployment and falling profits (Nike’s dilemma, 2006, para. 4). Nowadays, most people agree that we should protect children in workplaces.

Firstly, we have to make international guard systems. About ten years ago, many soccer ball companies such as Nike, Puma, and Adidas cooperated with ILO, International Labor Organization, for fixing this problem. However, Mr. Dogar of IMAC, the Independent Monitoring Association for Child labor, said that we are not able to do “24-hour surveillance,” and cover “the whole area” (Montero, 2006). It means that present organizations are not enough to solve the problem. So, we make a new international association with nations, companies and non-government organizations. That is because, according to “Child Labour”, “Though the United Nations has already created a large number of international conventions, setting legal standards to prohibit the exploitation of child labour, the problem remains widespread” (n.d., p. 4). I think that, for example, we make a big international association. Every international company and country should join in it. After that, we make international laws such as international labor standard. If some companies do not obey those, countries do not allow selling these companies’ products. If we can do that, we can make a trend of obeying these rules. Also, if we make this association successfully, we can prevent other problems effectively. It can help the third world. For example, it can teach people, and train workers. Moreover, making campaigns and books are very useful to help these countries.

Secondly, we have to concentrate on children’s entire life situations. Children’s working environment is very serious. We have to keep child workers far away from hazardous environments. For example, in factories, they work with hazardous chemical mixtures and glass bangles, and matches. Moreover they work stepping on or handling hot broken glass, stuffing cracker powder into fireworks, risking fire and explosion and carrying excessive weights (Child Labour, 2006). Although solving these problems may make third world people’s livelihoods harder than now, after several years, it will be clear that their lives are more comfortable. So, we have to support their education for their future lives. For example, if their children study hard, they will get higher knowledge and technology. These changes would give a chance for their living conditions to be more improved. In IKEA’s study, there were 22,000 children out of school in Andhra Pradesh. So, IKEA donated 18,000 tables for use in schools (International Partnership: IKEA, n.d.). For example, after war the in Korea, our livelihood was very seriously endangered. For escaping this situation, our parents concentrated on children’s education. So, in just about fifty years, our GDP, Gross Domestic Product, is over 20 thousand dollars. In the long term, for their lives and their children’s lives, they do not have to steal their children’s future.

Finally, people have to lead in fixing this problem. Nowadays, many international organizations are trying to solve this problem. However, there are still problems. It means that present effort is not enough to fix it. For example, in China, there are about one hundred eighty manufacturers and two hundreds ten thousand employees. Among them, Nike’s factories are using children to work in assembly lines (Nike finds problem in China, 2008). So, people have to do movements such as a boycott. According to Joel D. Joseph (2008), “Our purchases keep children in chains,” he said, “Don’t buy it. Tell your Senator, Congressman and presidential candidates that we should oppose the cruelest abuse of human rights: child labor” (para. 10). It is very important because if we buy these companies’ products, we will leave this problem to take its own course. There are a lot of works that we can do to solve this problem. For example, one is using internet. It is very useful. Nowadays, most people use internet and get information from it. So, we can advertise this problem and argue that we should not buy products. An other is making a child labor day, such as Independence day. Then, every year on that day, we do a boycott demonstration. It will make people be concerned about this problem continuously, and this movement can pressures companies. This movement will not be complete without every person’s effort.

Some people have said that preventing child labor will have a bad effect on children’s economic activities. They worried about unemployment and falling profits. So, they argue that children have to work for their livelihood. For example, in Sialkot, Pakistan, there were 5,000 children workers. If they lose their job, about 20,000 families could be affected (Montero, 2006). However, if their problem continues, their livelihood will be worse. Moreover their children will work at childhood, and their children’s children will work at childhood. According to John H. Cushman Jr., in “Nike Pledges to End Child Labor,” “American companies pay workers in China and Vietnam less than $2 a day and workers in Indonesia less than $1 a day” (1998, para. 6). If they just earned one or two dollars per day, their countries will remain in the third world, because they will not have economic revival without money. In addition, they will not educate their children. So, I think that we should apply a higher minimum age and pay more wages. If the minimum age rises by about 2 years, and minimum wage is raised, the effect on children worker’s families will be minimized. If we can do that, we can solve the child labor problem effectively.

In conclusion, these days, there are lots of child workers in workplaces. Also, people are concerned about human rights. Child labor is not only a problem of their lives, but also a problem of their countries and whole nations. Therefore, people should try to protect children in workplaces for their future lives. For doing that, at first, we should make a system that is able to do a 24-hour watch, because it is not possible to solve this problem without combination of governments, companies and non-government organizations. In addition, we have to concentrate on the future of children. Children are very important to their nations because they will able to make their nations powerful. In order to do that, people have to lead in fixing this problem, because there are still problems. For example, people should do movements such as a boycott. Moreover, if we can not fix this problem, their livelihood will be worse. So, I think that we should apply a higher minimum age and pay more wages. People should prevent child labor.

Child Labor (2006). Dictionary.com. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from http://www.dictionary.com

Child Labour. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2008, from http://www.un.org/Pubs/CyberSchoolBus/briefing/labour/index.htm

Cushman, Jr., J. (1998, May 13). Nike pledges to end child labor and apply U.S. rules abroad. The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from Lexis-Nexis.

International partnership: IKEA. (n.d.). UNICEF. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from http://www.unicef.org/corporate_partners/index_25092.html

Joseph, J. (n.d.). Our purchases keep children in chains. Knight-Ridder. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from http://www.saigon.com/~nike/childlabor.htm

Montero, D. (2006, December 22). Nike’s dilemma: Is doing the right thing wrong? Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from Lexis-Nexis.

Nike finds problems in China. (2008, March 15). The Toronto Star. Retrieved April 16, 2008, from Lexis-Nexis.

Savitz, A. (2006). The triple bottom line: how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social, and environmental success-and how you can too. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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