Friday, March 2, 2012

Child labour

Over the past few years companies have started making huge changes in their companies after consumers have started boycotting companies who promote child labour. This is obviously an issues with companies as they are aware that although they are saving a lot of money with labour they will lose a lot of money in sales.
BBC posted an article focusing on the UK clothing store called “Primark” which had fired three of their Indian suppliers for using child labour. The suppliers sub-contacted “smaller firms” which used child labour to add the finished touches such as embellishments or embroidery.
The interesting aspect of this was that BBC actually conducted a 6 month investigation and alerted Primark as to what was going on behind closed doors. Primark stated “The information provided by the BBC enabled us to identify that illegal sub-contracting had been taking place and to take action accordingly”.
It is truly amazing to see that companies want to change and make socially ethical approaches. However, this can be taken in multiple ways. To play devil’s advocate, is it safe to ask if this was ethical on BBC’s part. We have incredibly high standards in North America, the thought of child labour is literally mind boggling. However, in places like India, some of those children are actually providing for their families. Was it BBC’s place to jump in? What would Primark do if they found out on their own, and BBC did not publicise it?
This story is just an example of hundreds of companies which is saying no to child labour. However, for every one of those company there are also that many which are still using it. The largest ‘controversial’ companies being Walmart and Nike. The best way to state your opinion on the matter is to choose where you will and will not shop. If you shop at companies which are known to be ethical and have high policies you are taking a stand and saying no to companies with lower ethical standards.

Julia Isslamow

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