In the 21st century where sustainability is a prime factor to ensuring the long life of our resources and fair and just employment for the benefit of all, we need to consider the labour issues in relation to the United Nations Global compact(Use incorporation instead of “in relation”). In this regard there will be a discussion of the potential benefits and challenges concerning the United Nations 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 for all of us and businesses that exist within it. Issues to be discussed include Child labour, discrimination against minorities and modern day slavery. Solutions for these problems will be discussed as well as criticisms of the UN global compact in the regard.
Labour, according to the International Labour Organization(2018) is the population sum of the employed and the unemployed. Two of these groups are a representation of the current labour supply 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 labour issues facing the current world of employment.
The first principle set by the United Nations Global Compact states that, “businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.” Employers and employees are allowed 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 – employees and employers, this being the art of collective bargaining. (Doellgast and Benassi 2014) go to on further mention that,” as described collective bargaining was a process whereby workers select representatives to negotiate employment terms and conditions relative to individual bargaining.”
The second principle of labour is in regards to the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour which must be upheld by businesses. Forced and compulsory labour is work exploited without the consent of the labourer, under forceful conditions, threat or penalty. Work is supposed to be offered to an individual who then has the right of freedom to either decline or accept the task.
Principle three under labour brings attention to the abolishment of child labour. Child labour is regarded as any form of work that may hinder the development of a child, child labour is centred towards individuals under the age of 18 years old. There are international policies put in place as to what kind of labour exactly these individuals are allowed to take part in, but won’t affect their development and stop them from attaining an education.
Labour principle four discusses the fact 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 people or groups of people on a higher pedestal than others.
In context to labour issues, Human rights is important in the sense that it sets business expectations and boundaries in order to ensure that businesses do not infringe the labour rights of employees. Businesses therefore need to 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, servitude and human trafficking for the sake of labour exploitation ; in some cases sexual exploitation of 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 they outsource labour from countries with high levels of poverty, lack of legal representation and in most cases a high number of immigrant workers who don’t have 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 the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining,” employees have the right to become part of the Unions that support their claims but in most cases countries 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 in actual fact, “MNC’s take advantage of developing countries. In many ways more than one, they cause pollution, they pay labourers low wages & with the lack of labour unions there is no one party able to see through employment negotiations.” Labour Unions still do not mean that MNC’s do not take advantage of developing countries. In the late 1990’s Vietnam Labour Watch discovered that Nike corporation was found to be remunerating Vietnamese employees with low wages below minimum standard whilst they were paying superstars in America millions ; millions of Dollars each year. Furthermore (Schomann 2012) states that, “the increase in foreign direct investment has allowed multinational companies the power to significantly lower the power possessed by employees and consequently the power possessed by trade unions.” Globalisation approaches of management play a role in combating the lack of institutions and labour orientated trade unions seeing as trade unions are more regional than international.
According to (Osment 2014) Child labour in reference is when children are made to work in any type of environment that endangers or puts them in harms-way, and hindering their education in any type of way. (Prognosys e service 2012) states that there are 215 million children in work worldwide, majority of them working full time, unable to go to school and exposed to explicit environments including slavery, drug trafficking, prostitution and armed conflict. (Williams 2011) reports that there are cases of children working long hours per week in the production line of electric wiring strips for General Motors, an American company at its Delnosa plant. There was an investigation by the U.s department of labour which targeted 19 countries found to be importing and exporting products from child labour consisting of a population of 46 million children.
Furthermore (Wood 2015) mentions in her report that it was revealed in 2000 that there is an existence of child labour in the cocoa production farms in West Africa consisting of hazardous working 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 but 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.