Labour issues have become a popular conversation of late in the global international business world,
In this paper in this paper I plan to talk about labour issues in a global compact business platform. What comes to mind when we talk of labour issues in the global business context. Firstly how do we or one define labour issues? Labour on its own is defined as a service provided by the human workforce in a labour market which is a place where employees / workers interact with each other. It further goes on to state that the employers compete against one another to find the best suited employees and on the other hand the employers fight each other to find the best suited and satisfying jobs.
Labour issues are a very broad and extremely wide topic, it entails so many avenues which at times some can be seen as human rights issues but in this case we will look at a few of the main issues aired out on a regular basis. Although just like culture and social behaviour every region and country has its own labour laws and regulations. However the United Nations provides an international guidance and policy on labour, this is called the international labour organisation (ILO 1996). These are some of the problems brought about by business or that arise due to business.
Children are the future citizens of the nation as stated by former president of south Africa and father of Africa Nelson Mandela, ” there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” It then baffles to see how one can take advantage of the little souls.
According to (Angnihotram, 2005) the term child labour itself is mostly defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical mental development. It refers to using children to work in sweat shops and is responsible for some of the most atrocious human rights violations.
in 1996 The ILO estimated that there were 120 million full-time working children ranging from 5 to 14 years. This figure doubles when part-time working children are taken into consideration. The distribution of child labour indicates that this phenomenon is located primarily in developing countries, .Asia 61%, Africa 32% and Latin America 17% (Grootaert ; Patrinos, 1999). As seen in these researches we notice that these are mostly high in third world countries and as stated by Fyfe, 1989) the highest proportion of child workers in relation to the total population is in Africa Compared against global estimates. For example child labour in South Africa has been underestimated, contributing largely to the low-priority status it is accorded. According to the Labour Directorate there were about 200 000 children working in South Africa in 1997 (Department of Labour, 1998), some as young as 5 years. Without conclusive research into the problem of child labour, it can be argued that this figure is a conservative estimate as a large percentage of “unseen” child labour is not accounted for. This includes unpaid domestic work and work in the informal sector. Other related activities that are neglected in the estimation are the increasing number of child prostitutes, largely as the result of the increasing number of street children and the regular human trafficking, which has become more profitable than drug trafficking or any other form of illegal profitable activities.
When we look at sweat shops it is a bit tricky, due to the fact that it differs from country to country, for example the laws adhered to in Asia and Africa differ from those in the west. We have here in Africa a lower minimum wage cap and even at the many employees would prefer to have that low paying job than to be unemployed. The poverty level and difference in the cultures makes people accept the poor conditions donned on them because it seems like and most of the times is usually the only way out of more suffering, which is against their human rights but still there is a thin line between right and wrong. Though one can look at the lack of safety in the work place and awful treatment which is the biggest concern. The problem is that these sweat shops are highly profitable raking in hundreds of millions in profits.
In Botswana there was an issue with the Chinese manufacturing companies who would under pay the employees and they would also not adhere to the safety features and regulations set by government, and to top it all up workers were locked up in the factories which were not properly ventilated. The owners had done this to cut cost and did not see anything wrong though according to the law of Botswana this was a violation against employees. The factory was shut down and the employers charged
With these challenges brought about by organisations, firms find it challenging to be on the right side let alone balancing profits and appropriate labour conditions. Though it can prove a trial because the benefits of a firm cutting costs on labour by using sweatshops is highly profitable because they can cut down turnover time. It was further backed by other economist stating that, The economic way of thinking views sweatshops from an exchange perspective in which both workers and employers gain when they voluntarily enter into a labour contract no matter how low the wages may seem to external observers. From Walter Williams (2004) on the right to Paul Krugman (1997) on the left, economists across the political spectrum have defended sweatshops in the popular press.
However others have a different view on this Brown, Deardorff, and Stern (2003) modeled the theoretic frameworks in which multinational firms could raise or lower wages. Elliot and Freeman (2001) outlined the most harmful of the anti-sweatshop activists’ demands. Moran (2002Ch. 1 and 2) documents that foreign direct investment and the firms it encourages provide above average pay and benefits for third World workers.