If Not You,Then Who Will Guard the Global Village?
SO WHAT CAN AN OLD FASHIONED DO-GOODER DO?
Kernaghan advised distributors and suppliers to be more aware and ask questions. “The more questions asked, the more
serious the factory owners will take you. If in this questioning you show some kind of seriousness, that is going to register with them. They are still going to try to cheat the workers, but they are going to think twice about the really extreme stuff. Like, they won’t hire kids, they won’t have 19-hour shifts, they won’t cheat them their fair wages and they won’t have them handling toxic chemicals,” he affirmed.
When factory standards fall within suitable guidelines, there is nothing to hide. If you are outsourcing or distributing product from countries like China, Vietnam or Bangladesh—where there are significant violations—these are some of the important questions that require answers.
1) Does the supplier provide full public disclosure of names and addresses of the factories used to produce products?
2) Are, at minimum, the local labor laws being adhered to?
3) Can the manufacturer provide a guarantee there are no children working in
4) Are worker wages up to standard with the local minimums?
5) Do the hours worked fall within the guidelines of local labor laws?
6) Do the dormitories provided meet local standards? Are they clean and decent?
7) Does the food provide adequate nutrition for workers?
SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE AND
But there is a quandary that exists for American buyers throughout the supply chain—suppliers, distributors and end-users. If 80 percent of toys, sporting goods and the like are being produced in China, what are these buyers to do? In purchasing products, it is not that Americans collectively don’t care about the rights of others. “When [former] Labor Secretary Reiche posed the question, it was extraordinary, something like 65 percent of the American people are very concerned about child labor offshore and concerned about sweatshops. Eighty percent of people polled said, ‘Yes I’ll pay, I’ll pay 5 percent more on products if they give me a guarantee [they were] made under humane conditions,” Kernaghan said. He continued, “I think good intentions are there. I think the awareness is there. But then nothing is delivered. The social movement wasn’t strong enough to come up with viable alternatives.”