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The Ethics of Child Labour
Transcript of The Ethics of Child Labour
If a child is extremely impoverished, they are much more likely to be forced into labour by their parents, in order to contribute to their family's income.
Parents may not be employed or are only partially employed. POVERTY EDUCATION Education may be limited to children because of cost or location.
As a result of this, children are susceptible to join the work force. United States China India Philippines Indonesia Nigeria Ethiopia Russia Thailand Brazil Columbia Europe Canada VALUABLE EMPLOYEES Children are considered vaulable workers by their employers.
They follow employer's orders.
Are too afriad to complain or speak out against authority.
Intimidated by physical punishment. The Facts Case Study 1 The Huffington Post Canada, Dec 14/11 In late August 2005, 13 year old Maxime Degray was loading corn cobs on a farm in Western Quebec when he fell off a trailer and was crushed to death by its wheels. Case Study 2 In July 2008, 15 year old Andrew James was offloading materials for a paving company in Manitoba when he was burried alive underneath a mound of hot asphalt. In both cases, the teens had reached legal working age in their province. However, this does not mean that early employment was in their best interests. Both were working with heavy machinery, materials and chemicals that were hazardous to their health and safety. The practice of child labour is often related to developing countries. It is almost never connected to a country like Canada. Rarely does one think of the kinds of working conditions children in Canada may be facing. Although both teens were legally entitled to work, can their early employment be justified? Safety violations have resulted in many deaths and injuries among child workers, raising questions concerning maturity: at what age can a child fully understand their rights as workers? Canada is not free of child labour. Many parts of the country make exceptions to particular jobs; creating a lax attitude towards the safety and rights of children. "Child Labour is Canada's Invisible Crisis" "B.C's Child Labour laws are the Most Neglectful in the World" The Globe and Mail, Sept 10/12 Vancouver, British Columbia has the most neglectful child labour laws, not only in North America, but in the world. In developing countries such as Afghanistan and Haiti, laws are more protected in comparison to British Columbia. In BC, children can begin working by the age of 12, in any kind of condition; hazardous or not. However, work cannot interfere with schooling. "Business tends to favour permissive child labour laws (likely the reason B.C. said its new law would help make the province more “economically competitive”). Young people work for less pay than adults. They’re easily cajoled to work long and irregular hours without overtime pay, and to accept pay deductions for transportation, uniforms and equipment. They’re more willing to take on tasks and less likely to ask questions about safety and training. They usually don’t know their workplace rights and tend not to report abuses. And they don’t unionize." None of these reasons make child labour right but they do make hiring children more appealing to businesses seeking flexible and obedient workers. Case Study 1 It is true that child labour is more prevalent in poorer countries; this fact does not eliminate the reality that it is occurring in developed nations. Over the years, 156 countries around the world, have signed an international treaty that bans the employment of children under 15 years of age. Though many developing nations, including Afghanistan and Haiti have signed, Canada and the United States refuse to do so. Case Study 2 Case Study 3 Currently, there are 218 million child labourers around the world (2012). Child labour is most prevalent in regions such as Latin America & Caribbean, East Asia & Pacific, Middle East & North East Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, West & Central Africa, and Eastern & Southern Africa. The percentage of child labourers is decreasing in some countries around the world (i.e. Africa); however, there are more children in the workforce now than ten years ago. SUPPLY & DEMAND When demand for production increases, so does the need for manufacturing labourers. Greed from multinational corporations and individual interest in obtaining reduced labour costs contribute greatly. Only 37 out of 155 developing countries have children that have completed primary education (2003). 1 in 6 children, aged 5 to 14 years are engaged in child labour activities in developing countries (2012). Boys and girls (ages 5-14) are equally likely to be involved in child labour. The term sweatshops comes from the poorly ventilated, unsanitary and hazardous factories that were common in the United States during the 1800s and 1900s. Annually, 22,000 children die from labour related accidents. A scandal in China's Shanxi province concerning child labour uncovered the depressing cost of the country's fast development in 2007, through a series of forced labour cases.
The labour scandal caught the attention of the Chinese government and prompted them to take action in a nationwide campaign to crack down on the practice of illegal labour.
The scandal involved 12 child labours; many more were transferred to other work locations.
Children were forced through harassment and torture to work in illegal brickyards.
The minimum working age in China is 16 years old; however, children as young as 8 years old were being forced into moving heavy brick molds, causing minor and serious injuries.
The Provincial government of China uncovered 81 cases involving 129 child labourers.
Children are facing poverty and need work. They become vulnerable and more susceptible to entering the workforce. Church Teachings "The person cannot be a means for carrying out economic, social or political projects..." (The Vatican) "Children should not be put to work before their minds and bodies are sufficiently developed."
(Pope Leo XIII, Reverum Novarum) "'Child labour, in its intolerable forms, constitutes a kind of violence that is less obvious than others, but it is not for this reason any less tolerable.'" (Pope John Paul II) "In no case, therefore, is the human person to be manipulated for ends that are foreign to his own development, which can find complete fulfillment only in God and his plan of salvation..."
(The Vatican) Case Study 3 Although the Chinese government allows children to be employed by age 16, should more laws, precautions and even prohibitions have been made to prevent this case? "The slave labor scandal in Shanxi Province has exposed not only the near-barbarity of the “early stage of capitalism with Chinese characteristics” but also the deep-seated administrative malaise in the Chinese system. Since early this month, the nation has been stunned by reports revealing that more than 1,000 “slaves,” including children and mentally retarded men, were working for long hours with no pay in primitive brick-making kilns in hilly and remote counties in the underdeveloped province. Investigations ordered by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership have discovered that massive kidnapping and smuggling of children and youth—and their subsequent enslavement in shoddy kilns, mines and other makeshift workshops—has taken place in Shanxi during the past few years. While some 359 victims have so far been rescued, the shocking incident is a slap in the face of the “putting people first” and “harmonious society” credos of Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao." China's Shanxi Province Scandal Association For Asian Research, Aug 25/07 "China's Slave Labour Scandal Reveals Weakness in Governance" Britannica.com, Jul 12/07 The Effects There are many ways in which the continued practice of child labour can be detrimental to our world.
Initially, child labourers are the ones facing the harsh effects of being engaged in such difficult work.
- Physically: causes immediate and serious injury, working conditions deteriorate a child's heath both short term and long term.
- Mentally: Traumatic events experienced while in particular labour circumstances can be scarring.
-Emotionally: Feelings of hopelessness are triggered by incidents and continuous participation in negative environments while a child is still developing. Although first world countries, such as Canada and the United States are not completely free of the practice of child labour, they are greatly affected by the extremities of forced in third world nations.
- Manufacturing jobs obtained by child labourers create greater unemployment in developed countries.
- These jobs are exported to child labourers because of low expenses. The impact on a developing country may be one of the most profound. Those countries that use child labourers are preventing a developing nation from becoming developed.
-Children are not given the opportunity to attend to school because of labour demands.
-An uneducated generation encourages the "cycle of poverty" to continue.
- By gaining an education, children will develop suitable skills that will further their futures and the future of their country. Why do you think Canada and the United States are resistant in signing the international treaty concerning children's rights in the workforce? Another Example "Around 3.5 million children under the age of 14 work in Brazil. More than 70% of them make around half of minimum wage... they work long hours, up to 12 hours a day, without receiving any money for that work. Many of them cut up to 2 tons of sugar cane per day or carry heavy orange boxes damaging their health incurably. Others have their lungs damaged by working in charcoal mines or by inhaling glue at the shoe factories... Big multinational and national corporations such as Mercedes, Volkswagen, Bombril, GM, Ford, and Fiat... are just some of the many companies that benefit from the exploitation of a workforce of children..."
- Bendedito Rodrigues dos Santos, Oliverira et al., "Nossas Criancas...," p.8 Although businesses may be benefiting from employing children, do they have the right to do so? Should laws be changed to prevent this? "A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The "supreme gift of marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents," and "the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception."
(2378, Catechism of the Catholic Church) Efforts & Action Several human rights organizations, such as Free the Children, have continuously assisted children in developing countries, become free from poverty and labour. Funds are raised and donated in order to build schools, youth centers and other healthy environments for children; encouraging communities to protect their children and future generations. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has fought for children's basic human rights and worker rights through many conventions and recommendations they have made over the years. Many countries have agreed to prohibit or restrict the employment and work of children because of the guidelines and standards set by the ILO. The Catholic Church's Stance Oral Case Study Do you believe the environment (i.e location, culture) a child lives in has an impact or influences their outlook, view or perception of abuse concerning child labour?