Abolition of child labour in context of the ILO labour standards and the TPP

Essay, 2015

9 Pages, Grade: 1,0


ILO labour standards and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement should include enforceable language requiring signatory nations to eliminate child labour. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiation (TPP) is a multilateral free trade negotiation, which should strengthen the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, 12 countries taking part in TPP negotiations including: New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, Australia, Peru, United States, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada and Mexico. Also the Republics of South Korea and of China (Taiwan) announced their interest in a membership. The TPP is considered to be one of the most important trade negotiations of Vietnam now, which includes in not only trade provisions like market opening for goods and services, but also other non-trade ones like investment, labour and environment.1 Therefore, this agreement should be seen as an opportunity to reinforce and to protect the human rights of children.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has developed international labour standards to ensure that the globalization of economy provides benefits for everybody, especially in terms of freedom, equity, security and dignity.2 The abolition of child labour is one of the fundamental conventions, the ILO claims. The “ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up” declared that all members have “to respect, to promote and to realize [͙΁ the effective abolition of child labour”3. The demands are defined more precisely in the “Minimum ge Convention”4 and in the “Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention”5.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In the discussion about child labour everybody should always be aware of the following fundamental statement of the ILO:

“Children enjoy the same human rights accorded to all people. But, lacking the knowledge, experience or physical development of adults and the power to defend their own interests in an adult world, children also have distinct rights to protection by virtue of their age.”6

“Out of Vietnam’s child population of 18.3 million, one-sixth (2.83 million) are currently engaged in some forms of economic activities.”7 Child labour is work that children should not doing because they are too young to work, or - if they are old enough to work - because it is too dangerous or otherwise unsuitable for them. Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour͖ adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and individual development or interfere with their education, is commonly regarded as being something positive. Some forms of work can be called child labour, depends on the child’s age, the type and the hours of work executed and the conditions under which it is performed, as set out in the ILO Conventions.8

lthough the rate of child labour in Vietnam is lower than the world’s average, there are still about 10,5 % of the whole children’s population, which can be titled as child labourer and 42,4 % of this children are working more than 42 hours per week9, which is above the OECD average of weekly worked hours by adults on their main job10. Most child labourers live in a rural area, work in farming and are unpaid family workers. Only to ensure a positive economic future the representatives of Vietnam should support the combat against child labour. By working every day, children miss school and the proper education they need to escape from poverty and exploitation from companies. Moreover, a well-educated generation of children almost certainly has a positive influence on the situation of the next generation for two reasons:11

- The potential income increases with the level of education
- The educational level of the parents influences their decisions whether children should be economically active or enjoy education

However, children are less expensive to hire, what lowers the wages of adults. On one hand this leads to lower productivity and on the other hand this pokes the vicious circle of poverty. To set the elimination of child labour as a contractual requirement in the TPP, would force present and future governments to impose measures reaching and holding this requirement. Making a visible public commitment to limit the ability to make concessions.

Child labour may also be a financial need for families, who don’t make enough money to buy the basic fundamentals to survive. In certain areas, families are forced to make their children work to be able to feed them. Thomas DeGregori an economics professor from the University of Houston says, “However, in poor countries like Bangladesh, working children are essential for survival in many families, as they were in our own heritage until the late 19th century. So, while the struggle to end child labor is necessary, getting there often requires taking different routes — and, sadly, there are many political obstacles12 But especially in this case, a multilateral free trading zone should empower all participating countries that they are able to spread out a social net, which gives all citizens a minimum living subsistence.

Furthermore could be argued, that companies in emerging markets, like Vietnam13, have to employ children for work to be competitive with developed countries, like the

US. Another argument for child labour, or more exactly, not to fight against child labour as hard as you can, could be that child labour would may be safer than the alternatives. As already happened in Bangladesh or Pakistan, companies had forbidden child labour because of pressure from western customers. Children that used to work in textile factories lost their jobs and end-up working in less-paid sectors, with more dangerous working conditions like metalworking, or worse join criminal activities or sex trade.14 The pressure to control their supply chain, in terms of child labour, is much higher for companies in final good industries than in capital good industries, because the customer is “closer related” to the supply of company’s inputs. Whether this statements are true or not, all participants of the TPP should follow the same morale and human standards. The United Nations formulate child labour as a violation of children’s freedom and human rights.15

Nowadays most of the western companies are increasingly concerned with child labour in their supply chains, as mentioned in the paragraph before. They see it as not consistent with their corporate values, a threat to their image and ability to recruit and retain top employees, as well as to the sustainability of their supply chain.16

Child labour does affect the whole society in every aspect. Only making rules in agreements is not the solution to overcome it. But it could be considered as pressure for the government to decrease the quote of child labour and to strengthen the social


1 (Vietnam Chamber Of Commerce And Industry, 2015)

2 (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2015)

3 (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2015)

4 (Governing Body of the International Labour Office, 1973)

5 (Governing Body of the International Labour Office, 1999)

6 (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2015)

7 (Dr. Ngyuen, Nguyen, & Tong, 2014, S. 2)

8 (United Nations, 2015)

9 (Dr. Ngyuen, Nguyen, & Tong, 2014, S. 3)

10 (OECD, 2015)

11 (Hemmer, Steger, & Wilhelm, 1997)

12 (DeGregori, 2002)

13 (Ernst & Young Global Ltd., 2015)

14 (Dupont, 2015)

15 (United Nations, 2015)

16 (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2015)

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Abolition of child labour in context of the ILO labour standards and the TPP
Hanyang University
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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ILO, TPP, Child labour, Vietnam, Kinderarbeit, Labour standards
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Michael Rogg (Author), 2015, Abolition of child labour in context of the ILO labour standards and the TPP, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/339344


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