Using three principles of the Global Business Standards Codex, evaluate the use of child labour in a global economy.
Child labour refers to the employment of children in work that deprives children of their childhood and interferes with their ability to get education. .This act results in long term mental, physical, socially dangerous outcomes. This practice is common around the world and children are exploited by various international organizations. Repeated media exposure and responses to banned products made by child labour have led to widespread recognition that child labour is a serious problem in the world. There are eight important ethical principles when taken into account together, are called the Global Business Standards Codex. Three of the eight principles are The Transparency Principle which consists of truthfulness and objectivity, The Dignity Principle focuses on the respect for everyone, health and safety and security of employees and The Fairness Principle that implies fair dealing for everyone.. Raised awareness of human rights has led towards the creation of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the 1924 Declaration of Geneva, the 1989 UN Declaration on the Rights of the Children and the International Labour Organization (ILO)..
Child labour accounts for 22% of the workforce in Asia, 32% in Africa, 17% in Latin America and 1% in US, Canada, Europe and other wealthy nations. Although many countries agree on the importance of labour standards, in practice, many obstacles to the implementation of standards of child labour remain. These barriers include global competition, the rules of free trade and structural adjustment policies attached to loans from international development. One of the major reasons is the emergence of multinationals which results in competition with each other for employment, investment and industry. During the 1990’s, Nike faced criticism for use of child labour in factories it contracted in Cambodia and Pakistan to manufacture soccer balls. Although Nike took action to curb or at least reduce the practice, it continues its production in areas where inadequate regulation and monitoring make it hard to ensure that child labour is not used on contracts.. Industries such as the assembly of soccer ball (Pakistan) and shoes and fisheries (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand), have created strategic alliances under the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) to leave the workplace in prospect of a better life........
Although perceptions of children working as labour depend upon cultural traditions and levels of economic and social conditions, there is a broad consensus on the unacceptability. Company Codes of forty were drawn out at random from a set approximately 100 largest multinationals that were pioneers in the field of corporate social responsibility (Kolket al, 1999). Only a relatively small number (13%) of the largest corporations (Fortune 500) included a company code that includes provisions of child labour. Out of 24 major international codes of professional associations, only 6 (25%) include provisions of Child Labour..
International competition sometimes slows reform of child labour by encouraging corporations looking for cheap labour to resist the applicable international standards and law enforcement union activism. Many unions and other organizations fear that this “global race to the bottom” increases poverty while lowering labour standards.
Most child labour occurs because children and families are poor and do not have options for education or income. The Human Development Report 2003 of the United Nations, for example, identifies “rules of unfair trade practices” as one of four major obstacles to economic development in poor countries. In 2008 Primark, a popular UK brand was questioned upon using child labour in its production process and selling good quality shirts for as low as £4 this proving that children were being exploited. Mining in Africa, silk weaving in India, production of GAP products along with various other cases have been reported worldwide which exploit the poor children of third world countries by overburdening them with work and giving minimal wages in return.
Poor countries often face staggering interest on development loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These loans often require countries to comply with the policies of structural adjustment programs, deregulation, opening trade and financial markets to global competition, weakening of labour laws, government jobs and spending on privatization public health programs and government education cuts. A popular account of debt repaying is also mentioned in a book ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’ by John Perkins. According to his book, Perkins’ function was to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank and USAID. Riddled with debts they could not hope to pay, these countries were forced to accept the conditions of which child labour is one..
These structural adjustment policies which are implemented by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) may intensify conditions, such as poverty and lack of education funding that lead to child labour. For example, Malawi spends 40% of its GDP to repay foreign creditors, while only 15% of GDP is spent on health and education combined..
Only a very small percentage of multinationals adhere to a minimum age requirement, which applies to all locations and is therefore universal. As Sara Lee also states that ‘while the legal definition of ‘‘children’’ sometimes varies from country to country, Sara Lee will not knowingly employ individuals who are under 15 years of age.’. On the other hand a few companies give vague statements about their views on…...
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