In todays ever so evolving business world ,the strength of a business lies in its ability to adhere to the law (Tyler, 2006),(Gonzalez-Perez & Leonard, 2015) also suggests that a business longevity and prosperity in the market is affected by environmental and social matters. I therefore introduce The United Nations (UN) global compact which embodies those very important aspects in the business world. In the year 2000 a gathering of 40 companies obligated themselves to a set of principles under four issues being human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption (Kelly, 2015) . According to (Gonzalez-Perez & Leonard, 2015) the global compact was put in solely to encourage the globalisation of social and environmental matters in business. I will be providing this written project so as to outline and critically analyse the benefits and challenges that are faced by businesses, whether international or national, in committing to the global compact under Labour issues. This project also seeks to provide solutions or recommendations to the challenges under labour issues.
Durkheim (2014) defines labour issues in relation to the labour problem as the fundamental injustices that occur in the work place as a result of neglecting human and employment rights within such spaces. The working force being Labour is a vital resource to the prosperity of any organisation because without it the day to day running of the organisations can not be met (Herod, 2017). There are several existing issues which occur in the workplace that are negligent of such rights at a global scale hence the need to add labour issues as a principle to the Global Compact Initiative. For the purpose of this assignment I will be discussing child labour, forced labour as well as workplace discrimination as crucial issues in the protection and assurance of employment rights.
As defined by (Nanjuda, 2008) child labour is an individual below the age of 14 years enrolled for work in an arranged setting. According to Javier (2007) the acceptable working age in China is 16 years whilst according to Arendt (2018) the legal age of work (which is contingent on working environment and working hours) is 14 years in the United States of America. This shows the varying gaps in the exact legal age for employment in different countries, however for the purpose of this assignment I will use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) which refers to child labour as the employment of anyone under the age of 18. There are certain advantages that can be related of child employment which include them having the ability to help provide not only for their immediate needs but for those of their families as well. Cockburn (2010) argues that child labour is seen as a norm in many developing countries due to the general expectation to contribute towards the local economy. Contrary to this, Burgan (2012) argues that child labour not only exposes children to risks such as human trafficking and child abuse, it also deprives them of access to basic education and the right to enjoy their childhood years.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO CURBING CHILD LABOUR.
There are several approaches that companies, society and individuals can take to curb child labour. These include purchasing goods from legitimate companies and avoiding those that actively participate in child labour e.g. avoiding sweatshops and companies that have been accused of recruiting children to do their industrial work. Another manner could be educating all stakeholders on the importance of children’s rights and allowing them access to enjoy their childhood. Hirsch (2016) argues that a lot of the irrational things human beings do are as a result of misinformation on the cause and effect and the consequences of the decisions we take, by educating ourselves and those around us we change the narrative and lead to a more informed and more responsible society.
DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE.
Chin (2009) refers to workplace discrimination as the prejudiced and unfair treatment of people in the workplace based on negative biases that could be caused by a variety of issues including religion, sex, disability and race. Some forms of discrimination can be explicit where people know that they are actively disengaging and depriving others of opportunity based on who they are e.g. In conservative societies women who do technical work are heavily discriminated against in the workplace. Benatar (2012) argues that gender discrimination is often a result of societal misperceptions of the role of women in business. There are however also instances where this discrimination is not done cautiously and where employers might not recognize that they are being discriminatory, this could happen through the implementation of laws that side-line certain groups or the lack thereof of laws that could protect such groups. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2017) The Hershey Company was sued for disability discrimination for suspending and later firing Kristina Williams after she was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, this is an example of direct discrimination in the workplace by an employer. Gregory (2003) argues that workplace discrimination is detrimental because it deprives those that are discriminated against of essential freedoms like speech, association and expression. Craig (2007) argues that due to the bias against some groups in the workplace, productivity is reduced which eventually leads to the corporation bearing the cost of a failing workforce.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO CURBING DISCRIMINATION.
In order to solve workplace discrimination, it is also important that we educate everyone in the workplace about the harms of this. Discrimination is often born of psychological and historical biases and requires unlearning in order for people to correct their behaviour (Benatar 2012). Another way could be by adopting minority friendly laws within businesses for example, the adoption of laws which are pro gender parity and pro disability protection. Whilst arguing for the introduction of gender equity laws in the workplace Tulshyan (2016) asserts that a balanced work environment and diverse opinions are vital for the success of any business.
Blackmon (2012) defines forced labour as the use of intimidation or violence to get people to do work. This means the work is performed involuntarily and through coercion and can occur through the use of actual violence, threat of violence or intimidation of people based on their economic or social standing. Costa (2009) refers to modern day slavery, coercive recruitment and compulsory recruitment as some examples of forced labour. It is therefore important to note that forced labour does not necessarily mean the absence of pay and compensation. Lindley (2014) argues that after the economic crisis of 2008, people have grown increasingly vulnerable to the circumstances they find themselves under and are therefore increasingly susceptible to accepting and brushing off forced labour. Individuals at the bottom of the socio economic ladder find themselves most susceptible to this as they have minimal control over their tomorrow. According to Blackmon (2017) the exposure of our culture to such violations lead to breakdowns within societies which will eventually inhibit the social development of those concerned. This shows that the disadvantages extend beyond just the economic and financial opportunities that are lost but could lead to phenomena’s like injustice and corruption becoming norm.
RECOMMENDATIONTO CURBING FORCED LABOUR.
As a solution to ending forced labour, individual countries have a responsibility to act in solving this crisis. The first way could be by consistently investigating and doing checks on all corporations trading within their boundaries and acting promptly where any instances of forced labour may be seen to be occurring. This can happen through the establishment of commission of enquiries and other independent bodies tasked with ensuring citizen and employee protection. Furthermore by establishing more sustainable economic and social policies, countries could be able to improve the living standards of their people and make them less prone to abuse by employers. Lastly it is important to sensitise employees and aspiring actors in the economy of their rights so that they are in a better position to protect themselves against employers who want to abuse their authority over them.
The human workforce is a crucial part of securing financial, social and political economies and establishing a solid economic standing for any country, it is therefore then an essential part in growing these economies. Beyond this it is also important to understand the correlation between employee rights and human rights and the need to protect them. Several countries experience the same labour issues which is why the pandemic constitutes as a global problem which requires immediate intervention and the need for all stakeholders that have taken up the Global Compact Initiative to act in curbing them. A lot of the principles under Initiative are intertwined and require an almost balanced approach to solving, there are some basic measures that can be used to curb labour issues along with human rights issues and corruption and they include the education ad sensitization of concerned parties, the adoption and implementation of necessary regulation and the upkeep of regular checks and balances to ensure that these problems are solved. However, all stakeholders must always go the extra mile to ensure that for whatever rising issue occurs especially those that are special to their line of work they are always ready and proactively work to resolve them.