Blog: Child Labor

Commit to Ending Child Labor Now!

Today, as we commemorate World Day Against Child Labor, we are calling on policymakers, consumers, corporate leaders and individuals everywhere to redouble their commitment to the fight to end child labor. The global community has made great progress over the past twenty years, but recently that progress has slowed. In 2016 the International Labour Organization (ILO) reported there were still 152 million child laborers – which is exactly 152 million too many. Those are children who are losing out on their childhood, their education, and their future.

Of Gods and Goblins

This week, as millions of American kids prepare their costumes for the biggest chocolate consumption holiday of the year – Halloween – most are unaware of the 2 million children laboring in West African cocoa fields.  Likely none share industry experts’ worries about the sustainability of cocoa supplies in the world.  Yet cocoa, which has the lofty Latin name, Theo Broma (fruit of the gods), has proven to be one of the most difficult development conundrums for those who advocate for international trade as a path to prosperity for developing nations. 

From Slavery to Debt-Bondage: Big Tobacco’s Addiction to Cheap Labor

I was in North Carolina last week, marching through the streets of Winston-Salem with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) to demand collective bargaining rights for farmworkers who harvest tobacco. As these workers shared their stories about unjust conditions in the fields and sub-poverty earnings, I was struck by the similarities between tobacco industry exploitation in my own country and what our partners in Malawi, the Center for Social Concern (CSC) and Tobacco and Allied Workers Union of Malawi (TOAWUM), are fighting against.

This Thanksgiving week: act against child slavery in our food system!

It's Thanksgiving week, and we have a veritable feast of actions you can take on behalf of vulnerable workers!   

This week is both the inaugural End Child Slavery Week and 3rd annual International Food Workers Week. We promote both of these important initiatives, with their distinct but overlapping objectives, because they touch so many of our campaigns; especially the plight of children who labor on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

ILRF Board Member Kailash Satyarthi Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The International Labor Rights Forum congratulates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their struggle against the oppression of young people and exploitation of children for their labor, and for the right of all children to education.

Seventeen-year-old Malala is an incredibly inspiring role model for young women everywhere with her fearless advocacy against the Taliban's efforts to deny women an education.

Ten Reasons the U.S. Should Maintain Uzbekistan at Tier 3 in the TIP Report

The US Government releases the TIP Report June 20. “The Government of Uzbekistan remains one of only a handful of governments around the world that subjects its citizens to forced labor through implementation of state policy,” reported the US Government in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report. This tragic reality has not changed.

How the U.S. Government Can Follow Its Own Advice to Be a Responsible Consumer

Today, the New York Times reports child labor, blocked fire exits, unsafe buildings, forced overtime and a range of other illegal, unsafe, and abusive conditions for garment workers in factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, Mexico, and Thailand.  These factories have at least one thing in common: the United States government is a customer.   That means these abuses take place with the support of our tax dollars and are carried out in our names.  It also means the Obama administration “flouts its own advice” to private sector companies to use their purchasing power to improve working conditions in overseas garment factories.

Workers Give Message to RSPO: Don’t Certify Abuse!

Medan, Indonesia—This week hundreds of oil palm workers and their allies crashed the 11th annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi-stakeholder organization that promotes “sustainable” palm oil, to protest the organization’s failure to uphold its own labor standards. 

Arriving in colorful rain jackets on motorbikes and small pick-ups, the protesters braved a torrential downpour to deliver a blunt message to the RSPO: Stop certifying worker exploitation.

ILRF Loses Leading Child Rights Advocate

All of us at ILRF were tremendously saddened to learn that U. Roberto Romano – our beloved Robin – passed away at his home last week. Robin was a tireless advocate for children’s rights, as well as an inspiring and supportive colleague. He was also an amazing cinematographer and highly acclaimed filmmaker, who dedicated his life to reporting on and exposing the exploitation of children. For ILRF, Robin’s support and guidance was essential to keeping a spotlight on this ongoing global tragedy. 

ILRF Lauds Brazil's Progress at the III Global Conference on Child Labour

Speech given at the III Global Conference on Child Labour, Brasilia, Brazil, October 9, 2013.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of my organization, the International Labor Rights Forum and as a representative of the US Child Labor Coalition, where I chair the international committee.  Brothers and sisters in the fight against child labor, we are making progress, but the progress is not enough.  There are still 168 million child laborers; 85 million of them toiling under hazardous conditions.[1]

I want to congratulate Brazil on its progress in reducing the incidence of child labor. 

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