Few reports have as much significance in the world of labor rights as the bi-annual U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, the latest edition of which was released on September 30. Based on rigorous analysis by expert civil servants, the list represents a trusted authority on which products from around the world are tainted by forced and/or child labor, thus guiding a wide range of actors toward more prevention and remediation efforts in global supply chains. From the USDOL website: “The ninth edition of the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, adds two new countries (Venezuela and Zimbabwe), one new area (Taiwan) and six new goods (gloves, rubber gloves, hair products, pome and stone fruits, sandstone and tomato products) that the Department has reason to believe are produced with child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. This edition also features the removal of cattle from Namibia from the list.” While it’s important to note these additions to the list, the fact that many dozens of products and countries have remained on the list for nearly two decades is particularly disturbing.
The report also highlights the technical assistance efforts of the USDOL’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB). We are pleased to note that Verité’s Cooperation On Fair, Free, Equitable Employment (COFFEE) project is highlighted in the report (see p. 10) as a multi-stakeholder, region-wide effort to address labor issues in coffee supply chains in Latin America. More than 25 prominent coffee roasters and traders, industry associations, multi-stakeholder and certification initiatives, and CSOs have agreed to collaborate with the COFFEE project.
To further combat and educate about forced labor and child labor, ILAB has updated its Comply Chain app on appropriate compliance systems, and its Sweat & Toil app for additional information on products made with forced and/or child labor, as well as government efforts to fight them. The apps are available on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play.