Fair Trade Isn’t Enough: Our Unsolved Global Labor Rights Problem

The term fair trade is nowadays very common and used within numerous businesses. Fair trade products are tested through different companies guaranteeing that agricultural commodities are grown, farmers are paid adequately and environmental conditions were treated with respect. Fair Trade Certified products were sold in 2010 at a total of 5.8 billion all over the world. But this seems not to be the real situation.

Working conditions are still not as they normally should be. Million of workers are nowadays part of vulnearable work. Unfortunately that is not all yet. The list is long, containing forced labour, modern forms of slavery, unpaid wages, sexual harassment or child labour. It seems that the global labour situation has not significantly improved.

Nowadays there are at least 12.3 million workers all over the world that are at forced labour. Modern slavery is continuing to be present although we are living in a very developed and innovative world. Millions of women, children and men are living as slaves. Child labour is also one of the very big problems all over the world. The ILO estimates that 215 million children (5-17 years) are at child labour. 53 million children (under 15) should be directly withdrawn from hazardous working conditions.

Numerous organizations and companies try to combat this situation through different projects and social commitments. But it costs a lot of effort to improve the working conditions, avoid human exploitation and rescue the people from their current live. It is not only up to organizations but moreover to the government that should try to focus more on that problem implementing more control and labour laws.






4 thoughts on “Fair Trade Isn’t Enough: Our Unsolved Global Labor Rights Problem

  1. I think that the fair trade system is a really good starting approach to change the bad working conditions of the diverse affected workers and to attract attention to that wide spread problem of insufficient working conditions. Based on this system, whereby a lot of information were given to the customers due to the public attention to this theme, the people become more aware of this problem, which makes them think and at least make some of them keep this information in mind during their buying decisions.

    However, I also agree that even fair trade products have to be seen critically, because sometimes even better working conditions are not humanely sufficient working conditions. It can be often read in the news that based on a long supply chain, not the whole chain can be sufficiently controlled, so that consistently disrespect towards the fair trade principles can be discovered in some parts of the chain. These occasional findings discovered by random lead to the implication that these transgressions appear regularly, so that the controls and the compliance with the systems have to be definitely improved. Otherwise the fair trade system will get untrustworthy and not reliable anymore, which would unfortunately eliminate the whole effect of this in fact good system.

    Furthermore, a lot of companies use this fair trade system for Greenwashing. They just take one product out of their product range and make efforts to get the fair trade logo for this product, to improve the whole image of the company. These products are than mostly specifically advertised setting the focus on fair trade, to gain a positive image about the company in the customers mind.

  2. It is true that fair trade is not and won’t be enough to solve labor rights problems. The main problem is that there is no intervention from the so-called “developed and democratized” countries, probably because there is a financial benefit behind all this trade. Moreover, we all know that in very famous brands’ factories not only the children but the adults also are working in very bad conditions, but it does not prevent us from buying their products, on the contrary we continue to buy their products reinforcing their position and what they are doing. As a consequence this research should not be limited to governments or executives for example, all the people are concerned because of the consequences of their behavior.

  3. I am also of the opinion that Fair Trade is not enough. For me it is actually only a trend, or just a slogan with which companies try to highlight themselves. Also I think that the world is not developed, only some parts are developed, mainly the Western (EU & USA). And instead of working on a common well-being, those two states are just trying to mark a position on the Global Market and in Politics. Western people always “pity and regret” how hard life is in non-developed or the so called third-world countries, whereby I think they are opressing the less rich/powerful countries with their Trading Policies and World Politics.


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