Uzbek Cotton: A New Spin on Child Labour in the Clothing Industry? (Case Study)
Q1. Which human or employee rights are at stake in this case, and who are the key stakeholders ?
Development rights: The right to enable children reach their full potential.
Protection Rights: Rights that are essential to safeguard children from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Participation Rights: The right that allow children to take more active roles in their lifes and communities.
Survival Right: The right to live life and to have the most important basic needs.
Q2. Apply John Ruggies framework for business and human rights of protect, respect and remedy to this situation. What does this suggest about the relative responsibilities of corporations and governments in this case?
Companies are getting more concerned with child labour especially in their supply chains. They normally view it as un-appropriate with their values, and also a real threat to their image. Child labour can be found in all phases of supply chains, in agriculture, manufacturing, or retail.
Governments shall make sure that pay for suppliers is good enough to prevent hiring child labourers instead of adults, and provide good labour conditions as well.
On the corporations side they should:
1. Commit themselves to prohibit Uzbek cotton from their supply chain.
2. Lobby the Uzbek Government to allow an approved International Labour Organization observe the harvest.
3. Use all available means to pressure Uzbek Government to end child labour.
4. Make their customers aware of this how much cotton they purchase from Uzbekistan annually.
Q3. Should western companies consider further action to help protect child cotton workers, or have they already effectively discharged their ethical responsibility by instituting a boycott of Uzbek cotton?
Yes they should consider further action, even if they have done a great step towards preventing child abuse in Uzbekistan. Therefore, I suggest further action like working together with local governments, trade unions, and local organizations to eliminate child labour. A structural solution is better reached when working together. Protecting the child workers rights must not be only within the cotton industry but in all other industries. As boycott approach didn't have a high effect on Uzbek government, because they opened other deals with different international markets that decided to buy from them.
Q4. If you were working for a group dedicated to eradicating child labour, what would your strategy be now?
My strategy will be :
1- Show parents the importance of education.
2- Make children love to go to school.
3- Law punishment for companies, governments, and individuals for hiring and abusing children.
4- Providing better salaries for parents to support their families to prevent sending them to work.
5- Launch several campaigns for institutions to adopt and enforce codes of conduct.
6- Support workers that are struggling to organize unions and reject child labor.
7- Promoting global labor standards in all trade agreements.