Employing Child Labor of Nike Company
Nike is a multi-billion sportswear company and it has been accused of employing child labor in the past and recent years. In the article ‘We Blew It’: Nike Admits to Mistakes Over Child Labor written by Steve Boggan, Nike acknowledges that they have employed children in Third World countries. After Nike presented its first “corporate responsibility report” to its stakeholder’s labor groups such as Oxfam’s Nike Watch and the Clean Clothes Campaign were not comfortable with the situation.
The report stated that in Pakistan and Cambodia, children as young as 10 years old were hired to make shoes, clothes, and footballs, Nike’s response was that they employed children accidentally. Nike assured they have age standards of 18 for footwear manufacturing and 16 for apparel and equipment. Although in some countries those standards are next to impossible to verify when records of birth do not exist or can be easily forged (Boggan). Even though Nike claimed of doing the hiring process carefully they admitted to instances where they have ignored the age standards.
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In 1995, Nike had the worst experience and biggest mistake the report said. Nike thought they had contracted responsible factories in Pakistan, but instead, the work to manufacture well-made footballs was sub-contracted around local villages hiring children as their workers. Nike insisted that once they confirmed they hired a child they would pay him or her a wage, terminate the employment, and provide education, with the option of re-hiring the child once he or she was old enough to work.
In recent years, Nike has been criticized for its employment of child labor in Cambodia, but Nike says “fake age evidence can be bought for as low as five dollars”. Nike is also being criticized by the level of low wages it pays. Nike claims they pay good wages but children only make a small fraction of the actual cost of a pair of shoes.
Nike believes that most of its workers will go back to poor rural areas and if they are able to save enough money they can go back home and start a small business. If they do not save “the work in the Nike factory will make no long-term contribution to their economic wellbeing, and they will simply return to rural poverty” (Boggan). Nike’s first corporate responsibility report failed to represent the company and appeared immoral.
Nike’s defense to all of these accusations could not be convincing. Not many companies hire children as young as 10 years old and say they hired them accidentally. That excuse lacks honesty from the company as they admittedly stated they ignored the age standards. Although I do agree that people and children can pay money to create fake documents in Third World countries, Nike has not been ethically authentic about their hiring process.
None the less, the claims of Nike paying low wages to the actual shoemakers is child exploitation. If a child makes low wages he or she will be incapable to save enough money and start a business back home. Wages paid should meet a minimum legal standard.
To conclude, I do agree with Nike’s education involvement. I think Nike does the right thing by terminating employment once they notice they have hired a child and provide education for him or her. Without school or work, children are forced to work in less hospitable professions, such as drug dealing and prostitution (Hartman, L. P., DesJardins, J., & MacDonald). With the opportunity to get educated and with time children in Third World countries have the opportunity to work based on Nike factories age standards and make sufficient income to support themselves and their families.