Child Labour: Everybody's Business
Catalyst Australia, Sydney, 2014
52 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2016
Date Written: October 1, 2014
At first sight child labour may not appear to be a material issue for Australian companies and investors: Australia has labour laws that prescribe the minimum school-leaving and employment age. Australia also has a rich tradition in worker representation and a trade union movement active in advancing labour rights. However Australia is not an island when purchasing goods and services, and global markets for labour no longer align with national borders. Today many companies operate through complex global supply chains. The globalisation of business can provide opportunities for economic and social development; however, outsourcing labour without oversight can lead to worker exploitation, particularly as much of the production takes place in countries that are out of reach of Australia's national employment laws. While there may be an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to worker rights in the developing world, the issue of child labour is much harder for companies to ignore. Spurred on by civil society pressure and global conventions underpinning the rights of children, the global movement to eradicate child labour has gained significant pace over recent years. These approaches are often reactive and have been in response to finding children working in supply chains. But increasingly, global unions and non-government organisations (NGOs) have joined companies and investors to find ways to minimise the risks of child labour in global supply chains. This report looks at those efforts. It draws on extensive expert opinion and interviews to highlight steps that are being taken and challenges confronted along the way. It is a unique report in the Australian context, in that its central goal is not to expose bad behaviour but to inform and embolden companies and investors who want to take action about this issue with an evidence base upon which to act. The report brings to life the substantial work being done by unions and NGOs that can assist and guide those efforts. Above all, it is hoped the report supports more effective collaboration and partnerships between civil society, companies, and investors in the global fight against child labour.
Keywords: child labour, corporate social responsibility, supply chains
JEL Classification: M14, J50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation