Use of Child Labor in the Global Environment Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Child Labor in the Global Environment

Child labor has received opposition from all corners of the world. However, still there are companies that in exploiting their market in other countries they find opportunity of practicing child labor mainly because these countries might be having strict laws but they do little to protect the rights of children. Nike is among the companies that have been found to be using child labor in the production of its soccer balls in other countries.

Pakistan, of course have laws against child labor and slavery, but their government to some extent have paved the way for these acts since they do little to curb it out. It is only through boycott by the United States as well as other nations has slavery and child-based industries been impacted. Moreover the constitution of the United States describe child labor as illegal and inhuman practice and any company from U.S. which will be found to practice it will face prosecution. WTO and GATT have prohibited its member nations, such as United States, from discriminating against the importation from other countries goods that have been identified to have been made by children.

Tradition of Child labor in Pakistan

Per-capita income of Pakistan is $1,900 in a year which means that a typical person can hardly even survive on $5 in a day. As if that is not enough, the country has a traditional culture where one person's earning is used to feed about 10 mouths and together with the existing high inflation it becomes almost impossible for a low income population to survive. Pakistan has been dominated with child labor with greatest impact realized in the north-west of Punjab province, Sialkot. The population of Pakistan is approximately 1 million and is known to be a significant centre for the production of goods to be exported in international markets, especially sporting goods, (Sage, Alexandria, 2008). From the statistic gathered in 1994, the income of the exports from Sialkot brought to the Pakistan economy an income of almost U.S.$385 million. Therefore Sialkot is among the world's most important center for production of sporting goods, and at the same time child labor also exist both in the domestic sector and export sector, (Nike, 2009) .

Nike as a helper or exploiter to Third World Countries

Currently, if anyone visit a shop to buy a new soccer ball, there are high chances that those who made these balls are individuals of our child's age or even younger. Nearly half of the world's soccer ball originates from Pakistan and each of these soccer balls undergo the process of production where child labor is involved. The very problem is not only found in Pakistan globally. A number bigger than 200 children, as young as 4 and 5 years old, have been identified to be involved even in the production line.

For a long time Nike has been known to make its equipment within countries which are usually in the developing stages, offering very cheap labor, lack of human rights appeal and union as well as authoritarian government, (Endgame, 2009). It has taken advantage of this to make greater margins on the cost of mere cents to its workers. Meaning that success stories from Nike is not just based on good name and advertising but also somehow connected to its child labor and tears of tortured workers.

However, the issue is not that simple. Increasing the demand of the products produced by child labor means encouraging more child labor, encouraging more birth rates, more slavery, increasing sweatshops and discouraging education - as parents of the children working in factories would want them to work more and earn more, (NIKE, 2009). If this happened to be the case, then more and more children will be bought and sold on the black market, leading no end to this problem. By encouraging more child labor, you are not only taking away those innocent years from them but also the right to be educated and the right to be free.

Nike protects itself from all the blame by thinking a head of its movement. Its launching is never done directly in to the developing country like Pakistan, but it uses a local firm in subcontracting, (Schwartz, Peter, 2010). In doing so, SAGA sports, the local firm in Pakistan is supposed to always adhere with the Nike's international rules and regulations in the process of its production. Therefore it is the duty of Nike to make sure that the subcontracted production units are monitored and put under tight scrutiny. However, this is not the case. Instead the objective of both Nike and the local production company is to minimize cost and earn the highest amount of profit, therefore left with no choice but to practice illegal activities like child labor, which is a practice not widely criticized by the government of the host developing country. Hence the only answer which is given when Nike is asked about child labor is that Nike itself is not involved in child labor but it is the local subcontractors. The argument is wrong since both Nike and SAGA sports enjoy the benefit of a cheap child labor in Pakistan. Instead, if Nike has been defeated to have control over their subcontractors is because they have failed to implement their rules and regulations effectively and is not keen on abiding by their set international standards.

When Nike decided to enter Pakistan market, they had already considered this as their long-term strategic planning. It is not correct to say that they did not know that child labor was an ages-old Pakistan's practice. The full knowledge was at large about the favorable conditions that prevailed in regard to child labor and no appropriate action in anyway has been taken to prevent this violation of human right in the production of it soccer balls, (Associated Press, 2011). Contrary Nike has enjoyed higher profits from the Pakistan contractors who in turn have went a head to use bonded child labor in the process of production. It is not by coincident that Nike landed in countries such as Pakistan, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and China, it is a move to have cheap or bonded labors where they have the opportunity of getting away with the illegal labor practices, and this allow Nike to use lowest cost labor in making its products.

From the Foulball campaign report, Nike did not allow any check in their Saga-managed center twice in Pakistan yet their rival Reebok easily allowed access to its Moltex-managed center in Pakistan. Nike has formed a habit of hiding behind its good public image as well as its effective means of advertising and promotions. Various attempts Nike put to create a good public image by offering charity donating equipment forgets to realize the plight of the young boys and girls who suffer in their hand due to child labor in Sialkot, Pakistan.

Nike has failed to do a good job of scrutinizing their subcontractors units. Moreover it has not been open in regard to its labor practices as the way other various companies have been expected to do. Incidents such as supervisors beating workers who are paid 20 cents per hour at a plant in Vietnam and even not allowed to leave their work posts still exist. The most troubling that almost each and every soccer balls made in Pakistan have been made by young children getting paid one cent a day. All these are essential evidence that indeed show that child labor could be a worse than we have thought it to be.

The chairman of Nike, Phil Knight in the year 1996 acknowledged that a shipment of soccer balls purchased by Nike in Pakistan was made by a subcontractor using child labor in horrible conditions. Even though this was the first year when real public attention became focused on Nike's labor practices abroad, it should be known that manufacturing shoes within low-wage countries was a vital part of Phil Knight's plan for Nike's company from the word start, meaning that the American job has not been shipped abroad as claimed. The company has never made shoes in the United States, instead its factory built in 1960s was in Japan, this was when Japan was still part of the Third World. While from that time until now Nike has been migrating from nation to nation, establishing their company as these countries struggle to install the necessary mechanisms for orderly business operation and leaving these countries when the living standards becomes too high for a manufacturing sector to make good profit


It is the first time Nike is facing real serious questions regarding its labor practices abroad, and the first time its impact has been heavily felt on public-relations. Even though at this point the impact may not seem to be much devastating, in the long run Americans will become more and more horrified with these issues of child labor and will express more concern over the working…

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