In our 21st century where sustainability is a prime factor to ensuring long life of our resources and reasonable occupations to benefit the entire world’s labour force, we need to consider the occupational issues relating to the United Nations Global compact. Regarding this there will be a discussion of potential benefits and challenges concerning the UN Global compact for companies and stakeholders mainly focusing on labour issues. The UN global compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. United Nations Global compact aims to work hand in hand with companies and stakeholders in order to create a sustainable world and businesses that exist within it. Problems to be discussed include Child labour, discrimination against minorities and modern day slavery. Solutions for these problems will be discussed as well as criticisms regarding UN global compact.
Labour, stated by the International Labour Organization(2018) is the population sum of those with occupations and those without. These groups are a representation of current work force which is able to produce goods and services with-in a country through transactions in exchange for remuneration. There are four labour principles that address issues facing our world of employment.
The first principle set by the UN Global Compact states that, “businesses should uphold the freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.” Employers and workers are permitted to associate freely and willingly with groups or unions intrinsically and extrinsically in order to build a harmonious and conducive area of work which is in favour of both parties – workers and employers, this being the art of collective bargaining. (Doellgast and Benassi 2014) goes to on further mention that,” as described collective bargaining was a process whereby workers select representatives to negotiate occupational terms and conditions relative to personal bargaining.”
The second principle of labour regards to the elimination of all kinds of compulsory work which must be upheld by businesses. Forceful and compulsory work is where one is exploited prior to their consent, under forceful perimeters, threat or penalty. Employment is supposed to be offered to a person who then has the free will to either decline or accept tasks at hand.
Principle three under labour brings focus to abolishment of labour of minors under the age of 18. Employment of a minor is regarded as any form of work which may hinder the upbringing of a child. There are global policies put in place as to what kind of work exactly minors are allowed to take part in, but won’t affect their development and stop them from attaining an education.
Labour principle four discusses that businesses should uphold the elimination of discrimination in regards to employment and occupation. According to (Laki 2014) discrimination can either be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination being an act of unfavourable treatment towards a person or group based realistic or assumed situations, character or feature in comparison to one who isn’t being discriminated but is in the same category, with Indirect discrimination being a façade of fair practice but still placing other individuals or groups of people on a higher pedestal than others.
In context to occupational issues, rights of human beings are important because they set businesses expectations and boundaries in order to ensure businesses do not infringe the labour rights of employees. Employers therefore should practice due diligence in order to be in compliance.
As stated by Ethical Trading investment (2018), modern slavery is a broad term that is used commonly to address forced labour, bondage by debt and human trafficking for the sake of exploitation in labour & in some cases exploitation of sex from women and children.
Anti-slavery commissioner (2018) regards modern slavery is a crime that robs the victims of economic opportunity. Anti-slavery commissioner believes the reason such a crime is at its most efficient is because it is being challenged in an uncoordinated & unplanned manner. In most cases modern slavery exists further down into the supply chain of Multi- National Corporations due to the fact that there is outsourcing of labour from nations of high levels of poverty, lack of legal representation and in multiple cases a high number of immigrant labourers who lack the documentation or possess illegal documentation. This therefore results in their reluctance to bring this injustice to light. In relation to the above mentioned labour principle, “Businesses should uphold freedom of association and the recognition of the free will of collective bargaining,” labourers have the freedom to become part of Unions that adhere to their claims but in most cases nations with high poverty have very little availability of such services, these also being the places MNC’s outsource labour from.
(Ferdausy ; Rahman 2009) state that, “MNC’s take advantage of less developed nations. In many ways more than one, causing pollution, pay labourers low wages & with lack of labour unions there is no one party able to see through employment negotiations.” Labour Unions still do not mean that MNC’s don’t benefit from less developed nations. In the late 1990’s Vietnam Labour Watch discovered that Nike corporation was found to be remunerating Vietnamese labourers with low wages below minimum standard whilst they were paying superstars in America millions & millions of Dollars each year, this also being a form of discrimination against the minority. Furthermore (Schomann 2012) states that, “the incline in foreign direct investment has allowed multinational companies the power to significantly lower the power possessed by workers and as a result the power possessed by trade unions.” Globalisation techniques of management play a role in combating lack of institutions and employee orientated trade unions seeing as trade unions are more regional than global.
Stated by (Osment 2014) Child labour is when minors are made to labour in an environment that endangers or puts them in harms-way, and hindering their education in any type of way. (Prognosys e service 2012) states there are 215 million minor victims of labour globally, majority of them engaging full time, unable to attend school and exposed to explicit conditions including slavery, drug trafficking, sex and armed conflict. (Williams 2011) reports that there are cases of minors being engaged long hours per week in the operation lines of electric wiring strips imported by General Motors, an American company at its Delnosa plant. There was an investigation by the U.s department of labour which targeted 19 nations found to be importing and exporting products from minor labourers consisting of a population of 46 million individuals.
Furthermore (Wood 2015) mentions in her report that it was revealed in 2000 that there was child labour occurring in the cocoa production farms in West Africa consisting of hazardous conditions of which Nestle denied knowing about these allegations. This case was in direct infringement of the third principle. Nestle continued to work around governments and NGO’s in order to continue this atrocity. In September 2001 and fellow stakeholder in the cocoa industry signed a non-binding, voluntary agreement to eradicate child labour by 2005, of which in actual fact it had worsened, and this was not the last of it, causing a dilemma because they had now been seen as not taking their commitments seriously.
PUBLIC EDUCATION AND SENSITIZATION.
A lot of the discrepancies that exist with regard to curbing labour issues are often as a result of the lack of knowledge on the problems and effects that could come from our role in the causation and continuation of things like child labour and workplace discrimination. With this in mind, it is important that we as society, businesses and countries invest heavily in educating other stakeholders about their rights, their contribution and the role they can potentially play in solving the problem. Another crucial part of education is unlearning, which as defined by Gregory (2003) is the process of changing an individual’s thought process to change problematic thinking and change into more acceptable line of thinking. By so doing we get more informed and accommodating people in the place of work which will in turn lead to a more proactive social an economic environment.
ESTABLISHMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF LABOUR FRIENDLY LAWS.
In order to hold individuals and businesses accountable there needs to exist mechanisms which can help us do so. In workplaces, institutions can implement gender parity an equity laws, they could also implement disability friendly policies to protect the rights of such minorities. On the side of governments, there needs to exist laws such as employment acts and children’s rights acts that would set a basis to the sort of rights which require protection. However, for these to work countries should also put in place structures that can ensure the upholding of these rights e.g. a stricter rule of law, the establishment of commission of enquiries and structures that ensure regular checks and balances. By so doing, it becomes easy to identify ad promptly uproot problematic actors and create a more socially responsible living and working environment.
We have many issues facing the labour force, but with the engagement of businesses and multi-national corporations along with their review of supply chains it is possible to eliminate forced and child labour. We need to educate minorities about their rights on a global scale seeing as a large number of the world’s population lacks the knowledge. But having an initiative like the United Nations Global compact is a step in the right direction.