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US Govt urged to discourage child-labour in supply-chains
09
Dec '11
This week a coalition of twenty-four organizations representing organized labor, religious communities, socially responsible businesses, and consumers shared with the U.S. Department of Labor a vision on how the U.S. Government could do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars don't support forced child labor.

The groups have requested that the Government require its suppliers who provide goods potentially made with forced child labor to screen their suppliers and root out any who may use forced child labor.

The groups included the American Federation of Labor-Congress of International Organizations (AFL-CIO); American Federation of Teachers; Cal Poly Chocolates; Child Labor Coalition; CREA: Center for Reflection, Education and Action; Ethix Ventures; Equal Exchange; Fair Trade Federation; Fair Trade Resource Network; Fair World Project; Global Exchange; Green America; International Labor Rights Forum; Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State; Media Fair Trade/Untours; Organic Consumers Association; Presbyterian Church (USA), Office of Public Witness; Project Hope and Fairness; Stop the Traffik; SweatFree Communities; Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; United Methodist Board of Church and Society; and United Students for Fair Trade.

The U.S. Government has begun to take steps to make sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not used to purchase goods made with forced child labor. In 1999, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13126, which requires federal contractors who supply products on a list developed by the Department of Labor to certify that they have made a "good faith" effort to determine whether forced child labor was used to produce the items.

In advance of a Department of Labor deadline for comments, the coalition submitted a proposal outlining how the Order could be strengthened to better meet its goal of ending forced child labor in the areas of both cocoa and cotton production.

"Mostly due to a loophole in the regulations, companies that supply goods to the U.S. Government that may contain as a valuable component a good made with forced child labor -- such as chocolate bars made with cocoa from Cote d'Ivoire or uniforms made with cotton from Uzbekistan -- have not been required to implement any good faith efforts to identify and root out forced child labor from their supply chains, even as the U.S. Government continues to report serious forced labor problems in those industries," said Brian Campbell, Director of Policy and Legal Programs of the International Labor Rights Forum.

"By making a small change to how the products are identified by the Department of Labor on the procurement list mandated by Executive Order 13126, the U.S. government will be taking a significant step toward ensuring that U.S. taxpayer dollars flow to producers, including those in Cote d'Ivoire, who are committed to responsible business practices, and stop flowing to producers who use forced labor, like the Government of Uzbekistan."

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