Our key takeaway: We understand why tackling child labour may seem like an insurmountable feat. And why? Well, child labour does not exist in a silo - it is exacerbated by multiple crises such as the informal work economy, the lack of access to living wage/income, education, and remedy for workers, and companies’ sourcing practices. The manufacturing, mining and agricultural industries are particularly prone to specific child labour risks, which provides useful operational context for companies to consider when conducting human rights due diligence if they operate in these sectors. But what can companies do? Enter a new report by Save the Children and The Centre for Child Rights and Business. First, companies can acknowledge child labour risks internally and externally. Second, they can look at their own purchasing/sourcing practices and consider whether they’re indirectly contributing to increased child labour in their supply chains. According to Fairtrade, the price of cocoa paid to farmers dropped from 50% of the chocolate bar in 1970 to 6% today. This then has an impact on farmers and their children as their inability to earn a living wage/income means children are pressured to work and can no longer go to school. Third, companies can also work with suppliers to tackle child labour in a spirit of partnership, rather than a compliance-driven approach, and implement child rights-centred remediation systems based on positive engagement rather than ‘cut-and-run’ disengagement.
Save the Children and The Centre for Child Rights and Business released Child Rights Risks in Global Supply Chains: Why a ‘Zero Tolerance’ Approach is not Enough (2023):