Tag Archives: child labor

Germany to implement supply chain laws against exploitation | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News


Germany on Wednesday took steps to hold companies accountable for labor or environmental abuses in their global supply chains. The new law (Lieferkettengesetz in German) allows for hefty fines ranging from several hundred thousand euros if their overseas contractors are found to be violating human rights or environmental regulations. Fines increase to two percent of the company’s annual revenue if they exceed 400 million euros ($ 484 million).

The company is responsible for every step: from raw materials to finished products.

“This law protects workers from exploitation throughout the vast supply chain and protects human rights around the world,” said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Wednesday, adding “In the future, it will be clear that ‘Made in Germany’ also means respect for human rights. ”

The SPD-run labor and development ministry initially wanted the law to also target small companies, but backed off in the face of strong opposition from the CDU-led economy ministry and industry voices.

Responsibility for all products

A typical chocolate bar costs just € 0.80 ($ 0.91) in a German supermarket. However, many of these sweets are produced using child labor. Two decades ago, the University of Chicago launched a research project that looked at how many child laborers were employed in the world West African cocoa plantationin Ivory Coast and Ghana. According to the latest reports of scholars, 2.26 million children today are hard at work in the industry – a tragic new record.

“The problem is that industrialized countries are externalizing, meaning that we are outsourcing production to developing countries and thereby undermining the production standards we impose in our rich societies,” said German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller. Germany’s widely accepted social and environmental standards, he said, are being violated in this way. “We accept and strengthen the exploitation of humans and other nature in developing countries,” he said.

Ineffective voluntary commitment

Unfortunately, this grim division of labor has been going on for decades. There have been many political attempts to change this reality. Several companies based in developed countries, too, have made efforts to ensure labor, environmental and social standards are met during the production process abroad.

For a fair supply chain: German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU, left) and Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD)

In 2018, the German governing coalition – made up of the Christian Democrats (CDU), Christian Social Unions (CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) – agreed that legislation for this purpose would be passed unless the company’s voluntary commitments proved effective.

Now, companies can be excluded from the public procurement process in the event of a violation, and experts have pointed out the broader implications, at a time when forced labor by Uighurs in China is a hot topic of debate.

Few businesses support the law

More than 60 companies have expressed support for the proposed law, including coffee roaster Tchibo, food producer Rewe and Nestlé, and chocolate producer Alfred Ritter. The pro-business association, meanwhile, rejected the proposal. They said the company was already under significant pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic. The foreign trade association BGA, for example, criticized that “the adoption of the due diligence law will bring us to the tipping point and further delay economic recovery.”

“It is assumed that companies have more power than Chancellor Merkel’s government when it comes to promoting human rights,” said Steffen Kampeter, who heads the German employers’ association. In his view, the bill expects too many companies. He, along with many other business representatives, took issue with the fact that companies should be held accountable if human rights standards are violated along the supply chain.

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, however, disagrees. He argued that German companies would only be held responsible for foreseeable and thus preventable violations. “If you are making a profit globally, you also have to take responsibility for global human rights,” he said on Wednesday.

A skeptic of the proposed supply chain law: German Minister for Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier

A skeptic of the proposed supply chain law: German Minister for Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier

Should the EU act?

German environmental and human rights groups, which have long campaigned for the law, accused Merkel’s government of “streamlining” the original proposal.

Industry groups have called for a European approach.

Armin Paasch of the Misereor Catholic relief agency says this is actually the problem. “The move to shift this debate to the EU level has aimed to delay the legislation for years,” Paasch said.

A hard-fought compromise between the conservatives and social democrats of the ruling coalition in Germany, the bill still has to be approved by parliament later this year.

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German ministers push supply chain law against exploitation | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and surroundings | DW | Instant News


The price of a typical chocolate bar is only € 0.80 ($ 0.91) in a German supermarket. However, many of these sweets are produced using child labor. Two decades ago, the University of Chicago launched a research project to see how many child workers were employed there West Africa cocoa plantationsin Ivory Coast and Ghana. According to the latest reports of scholars, 2.26 million children today are working hard in the industry – a tragic new record.

“The problem is that industrialized countries externalize, meaning we outsource production to developing countries and thus undermine the production standards that we apply in our rich societies,” said German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller. Social and environmental standards that are widely accepted in Germany, he said, are violated in this way. “We accept and strengthen the exploitation of humans and other nature in developing countries,” he said.

Ineffective voluntary commitment

Unfortunately, this dismal division of labor has existed for decades. There have been many political efforts to change this reality. Some companies based in developed countries have also tried to ensure that labor, environmental and social standards are met during the overseas production process. Indeed, German Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil of the Social Democrats (SPD) has stressed that “anyone who ensures product standards are met can also ensure human rights are respected.”

For a fair supply chain: German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU, left) and Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD)

According to a survey of more than 5,500 large German companies with more than 500 employees, voluntary commitment has brought a slight increase. A first report published in December 2019 showed that only 18% of the companies surveyed had implemented a system to monitor how their foreign-made goods were produced. A later survey showed that 22% of companies had implemented such a monitoring system.

The ministers propose binding laws to end exploitation

“The results of the second company survey were once again disappointing,” said Minister Gerd Müller. For him, concrete steps are now needed. “We need a legal framework, as stipulated in the coalition agreement, to meet human rights standards that exclude child labor along the supply chain, and ensure basic environmental and social standards are met,” Müller stressed.

In 2018, the German government coalition – consisting of Christian Democrats (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) – agreed that laws for this purpose will be passed unless the company’s voluntary commitments prove effective. Since this is not the case, Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil announced that he would submit a bill to address this issue in August this year. The plan is to adopt the law as early as 2021.

Image of symbolic child labor (picture-alliance / NurPhoto / S. Mahamudur Rahman)

German companies must take responsibility, not only for quality control, but also for human rights, Heil said.

Globalization should not imply exploitation

The bill envisages requiring companies with more than 500 employees to ascertain whether their business activities abroad are damaging human rights, and to take countermeasures if necessary. In addition, the bill will require companies to publish an annual report on what they are doing to prevent human rights violations.

“Human rights are universal and the German state, its economy and society, bear the responsibility of ensuring they are respected,” said the Minister of Labor Heil. The German economy, in his opinion, is very global and therefore obliged to “take responsibility.”

Some businesses support the idea

More than 60 companies have expressed support for the proposed law, including Tchibo coffee grills, Rewe and Nestlé food producers, and chocolate producer Alfred Ritter. The pro-business association, meanwhile, refused the bill. They said the company was already under significant pressure because of the coronavirus pandemic. The BGA foreign trade association, for example, criticized that “the adoption of due diligence laws will bring us to the top and then delay economic recovery.”

“It is assumed that the company has more power than the Chancellor Merkel’s government in promoting human rights,” said Steffen Kampeter, who heads the German business association. In his view, the bill expects too many companies. He, along with many other business representatives, is concerned about the fact that companies should be held liable if human rights standards are violated along the supply chain.

Read more: How coronaviruses affect underprivileged children in India

Trying is the key

The Minister of Manpower Heil, however, did not agree. He argued that German companies would only be responsible for violations that were predictable and thus preventable. “We want to oblige companies to make efforts and do whatever is in their power – if they do this, they will not be responsible,” said Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Müller.

While Heil and Müller want to see their bill turn into law as soon as possible, this is a sure thing. Not everyone in Chancellor Merkel’s cabinet is a fan of the proposed law. The German Minister of Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier, for example, doesn’t think much.

A skeptic of the proposed supply chain law: German Minister of Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier

A skeptic of the proposed supply chain law: German Minister of Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier

Should the EU act?

Altmaier has stated that all members of the government will carefully analyze the bill. “We will assess which gaps exist, and how we can use the German President of the European Union Council to ensure that throughout the bloc, all countries ensure that standards are met along the supply chain,” Altmaier said.

Armin Paasch from the Catholic Misereor aid agency said this was the problem. “The move to shift this debate to the level of the European Union has been and continues to be aimed at delaying the law for years,” Paasch said. “This will allow the actors to block or simplify the proposal,” he said.

Paasch hopes Müller and Heil will successfully push through their bills. He was convinced that “we need German supply chain laws because this will increase the chance that within two or three years similar EU regulations will be enacted that apply to other member countries as well.”

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Child domestic workers are left with the mercy of the exploiters | Instant News


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Image of Reuters file.

LAHORE: While some groups provide domestic servants, especially children, to clients, some of them are also found to be involved in blackmailing employers and employees’ families in such cases.

A number of petitions have been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) in recent months for the recovery of children working as domestic helpers. The petitioners filed various accusations in these cases.

In some cases, those who have arranged transactions between the families of domestic workers and their employers have been found to pressure both parties during their case proceedings.

Sometimes minors refuse to go with petitioners, saying that they are not their mothers.

Recently a case was heard by the LHC in which a petitioner sought recovery from the family of three children serving in their home. He pretends to be the mother of children.

Petitioner Nazia Bibi, who provides domestic helpers for the family, petitioned the LHC to request the recovery of three underage children, pretending to be their mothers.

He claimed that family members who worked for children as ordinary domestic servants tortured them and did not allow them to meet their parents. He argues that children are not paid wages on time.

He prayed to the court to order the police to produce minors before returning them from the families where they worked.

During the trial, objections raised by the lawyers of the respondent’s family raised eyebrows. He said that the applicant was not the biological mother of the children.

Meanwhile, police from related areas were directed to produce minors named Sidra, Maria, and Zain in front of the court. When the children’s parents are notified, they also reach court.

Judge Sadiq Mehmood Khurram went down hard on the applicant’s behavior and asked his lawyer if it was true that he was not the mother of children. His advice recognizes that she is not a mother. The judge, who expressed his displeasure at trying to deceive the court, said why no fines had been handed down and the petition dissolved.

Hearing this, the lawyer submitted an apology and withdrew his request. Finally, the judge refused the petition because it was withdrawn.

Then, the respondent’s family lawyer said that one Dr. Maham and Nazia Bibi ran a gang where the children were taken from their parents with the promise of arranging work for them. He said the children were sent to different families for large salaries but their parents were given a lower amount. He alleged that the applicant had demanded money from the family to whom the children worked. Because the family refused to fulfill his request, he petitioned the habeas corpus, seeking the recovery of the children.

The children also said that applicants and other women used to receive salaries from their masters but only gave half to their parents.

Cases of violence against children working as domestic help are rampant in the city.

Apart from the law, child domestic workers are treated like slaves and not only lose their right to education but also health services, survival, food, proper care, have friends, enjoy leisure time and protection from harassment, violence, and exploitation .

Child rights activists believe that child domestic workers promote class differences among children and this can also have a negative impact on their psychological and emotional well-being. The government cannot make excuses to delay the enactment of the legislation needed to ban domestic child labor. Delays will result in violations of the best interests of children.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2020.

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