Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A good start on: child and slave labor

The US Department of Labor just finished a major piece of work identifying 122 products in 58 countries made with child and/or forced (=slave) labor. This is a good start, but far from done:
1) At 194 pages, it's more than the casual reader wants to go through.
2) Though they can give a list of suspect products, there is no 'guarantee' that the specific Christmas decoration you see on the shelf labeled Made in China was actually made with slave labor.
3) This doesn't identify the conditions under which children worked if in fact children were used as laborers in the process, which is salient to me if not to everyone. (I'm more concerned about hard labor and harsh conditions than about after school jobs or some menial housework that keeps the family from starving.)

Change.org has kindly created a convenient list of "some of the worst offenders for forced labor or slavery specifically:

* Bolivia: nuts, cattle, corn, and sugar

* Burma: bamboo, beans, bricks, jade, nuts, rice rubber, rubies, sesame, shrimp, sugarcane, sunflowers, and teak

* China: artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, cotton, electronics, garments, footwear, fireworks, nails, and toys

* India: bricks, carpets, cottonseed, textiles, and garments

* Nepal: bricks, carpets, textiles, and stones

* North Korea: bricks, cement, coal, gold, iron, and textiles

* Pakistan: bricks, carpet, coal, cotton, sugar, and wheat"

Hopefully next steps will identify specific companies who are involved in this and shipping to a store near you so that people can, if you choose, vote with your dollars to not support slave-produced goods. Hat tip to Texas in Africa.

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