American Shorts

Good Ol’ Child Slavery | September 10, 2009

I’m not a person you should be listening to. But child labor is slavery, and there are no two ways around that. If you drink Coke or Coke products, you’re just like George Washington.

Yahoo via AP:

WASHINGTON – A new Labor Department report identifies more than 58 countries where child labor or forced labor is used to make hundreds of goods — from coffee grown in Colombia to Christmas decorations made in China — that often end up in the United States.

The government wants American companies and consumers to know about the chance these products are made under conditions in which children and other workers are exploited and abused.

“We want to engage with these countries and corporations that may have their hands in the wrong places here and try to correct this,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. “I do hope that the major corporations will take it seriously.”

Despite some progress in curtailing child and forced labor, the problem continues to persist with products from nearly every region of the world, from West African cocoa farms to Latin American sugar cane to Indian silk.

The report, being made public Thursday, was mandated by Congress. It does not name foreign companies that use child labor or U.S. businesses that purchase such goods. Solis said the intent is not to penalize companies or bar trade with any country.

Rather, the goal is to raise public awareness about child or forced labor used in the production of goods on the list and encourage voluntary efforts by U.S. companies to make sure raw goods from foreign suppliers are not derived with exploitive labor. […]

Coca-Cola, which buys sugar cane around the world, faces tough a challenge based on the new data. The report says child or forced labor is involved in sugar cane production in Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Thailand and Uganda.

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