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List of Shame: Goods Made with Forced, Child Labor

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The U.S. Department of Labor has added three products to the list of good produced by forced labor, child labor or both. The list now includes 133 products from 71 countries, ranging from bamboo in Burma to zinc in Bolivia. Added to the list yesterday are bricks in Afghanistan and cassiterite and coltan in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

See the full list published in 2011 here and get the background on the new additions here.

According to the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, more than 200 million children, some as young as five years old are part of the global workforce. In factories and in fields, children work up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week. Matches, rugs, soccer balls, leather goods, paper cups, toys, shoes, fireworks—all of these products are made by tiny hands. The center reports:

Child labor is one of the worst forms of exploitation. Child workers are deprived of schooling, forced to work in dangerous situations, beaten and sexually abused, and crippled by work-related illnesses and injuries. Children are sold or indentured to employers who pay impoverished families for the use of their children. An ensuing cycle of poverty pushes adults from their jobs and drives down wages worldwide.

Although most countries have laws against child labor, and it is banned by officially recognized conventions of the United Nations and the International Labor Organization, child labor exists everywhere in the world. Child labor is most common in countries where there are no unions and where other worker rights violations, such as pay inequity, discrimination and lack of health and safety measures, are widespread.

The Solidarity Center and partner organizations push for governments to curb child labor so children can go to school rather than to jobs and their parents can earn decent wages so their children don’t have to work.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now on April 4, 2012.

About the Author: Donna Jablonski “I’m the AFL-CIO’s deputy director of public affairs for publications, Web and broadcast. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO in 1997, I served as publications director at the nonprofit Children’s Defense Fund for 12 years. I began my career as a newspaper reporter in Southwest Florida, and since have written, edited and managed production of advocacy materials— including newsletters, books, brochures, booklets, fliers, calendars, websites, posters and direct response mail and e-mail—to support economic and social justice campaigns. In June 2001, I received a B.A. in Labor Studies from the National Labor College. Most important: I’m the very proud mom of a spectacular daughter.”

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