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Stopping Corporate Child Labor

Updated on April 22, 2011

Corporate child labor is one of the forms of child labor. It involves children working in corporations and big companies. Some multinational companies strive to take advantage of the cheap labor offered by children in third world countries. They hire these children in sweatshops to work in extremely unfavorable environments. The children end up working for long hours with minimum pay.

Child labor is illegal and many people including International Organizations such as the UNICEF and International labor organizations are up in arms against child labor. However some people defend the practice. These people mostly economists, claim there are benefits of child labor. They are for the idea that any job is better than no job at all. In their argument they argue most of the governments in these countries do not offer alternatives to their people. Thus the sweatshops and companies offer alternatives to the children and society by offering a means of livelihood out of poverty.

Proponents of child labor also argue that child labor contributes to the overall economy of a country. The goods and services that are produced through the use of child labor help develop the economy. The wages offered by these companies are still higher than the in other sectors of the economy such as farming and mining.  

However the arguments against child labor are more according to most people. Child labor is a worldwide problem and various laws have been developed to stop it. The affected governments are still too weak to implement these laws and successfully enforce them. Activists continue to fight to eradicate child labor and support the laws. One of the reasons that they give for their support is that child labor robs the children their childhood and they are not able to live normal lives. The children are also not able to defend themselves and claim their rights. The children are unable to attend school since most of the times their parents cannot afford to give them education. All children should have the right to childhood and the right to be protected against abuse of any kind including child labor. They also have a right to education, recreations, and the right to be included in the formation of policies that affect them. They have the right to be heard and the adults have the responsibility to listen to them.

The use of child labor also affects the growth of the companies and the economy. Companies that use child labor do not invest in labor saving technology, or any cost cutting equipment that may help reduce their overall costs, since they opt for the child labor which they consider cheap.

Child labor has also led to the increase of illegal migrants and other crimes such as smuggling and human trafficking. Children are being smuggled into countries from the third world countries to work in these companies and sweatshops that are in need of the cheap labor.

Corporate child labor is a big problem in the world today and the government is not able to enforce the labor laws that prohibit it. There are various approaches that can be followed to fight child labor and prevent it. Stopping the companies and shutting them down does not solve the problem. The children just find an alternative method to fight poverty. The best methods to fight child labor should involve an alternative route for the children to follow. One of the methods that can be followed is to prioritize education especially primary education to the children, and make it affordable and available to the children. It should be well resourceful and free for the children to be able to get access to it. The schools should be able to monitor the attendance of the children to ensure that the children do not miss school.

Trade should be regulated to ensure that it is fair and the companies in the third world countries are given a chance to take part in world trade, in order for them to establish the industrial sector of the economy in their country. The World Trade Organization should oversee and enforce rules and regulations that are concerned with world trade. Policies that are concerned with labor laws such as workers wages, working conditions, safety standards and basic rights of workers should also be regulated. Trade unions should also push for these rules and policies to be included in the rules of world trade, by the World Trade Organization. Core labor standards should be included that enforce several conventions, such as the right for workers to join a trade union and bargain collectively, banning child labor, as well as other issues such as prison labor, discrimination at the work place and banning slave labor.       

As a consumer you can insist on buying or using goods that are not made through child labor. Companies can put labels on their goods that show that the goods are not made from the use of child labor. The companies can put the labels on all of their goods in a visible location that the consumers can check and determine that the goods are not made by children and that the company is not involved with child labor and does not support the act.

A code of conduct can be established together with supplier guidelines that can help curb child labor. The code can be used through the use of auditors to make sure that the suppliers of goods and services do not use child labor and end up convicting their clients. Standards can be used to encourage companies and big multinationals to achieve them. The companies can attain these standards and get an achievement and acknowledgement for not using child labor.

With the benefits that come with child labor it is still does not make it right to use it. The problems far outweigh the benefits that come with it. As the measures are put up to stop child corporate labor, caution and care should be taken to make sure that the lives of the child workers are not made worse, and the companies’ image and the country’s economy are not affected. Governments can set up policies that help reduce poverty levels. By offering credit schemes to women they ensure that the women are able to take care of their children and themselves. This can reduce the number of children who are pushed to child labor to fend for themselves.


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