Saturday, May 12, 2007

Support Fair Trade Day

This article was previously published in the International Young Professionals' Foundation newsletter in 2007

Having just started work with an Australian trade union, I have been exposed to what the labour movement has been doing to ensure that employees receive fair treatment at work. The idea of achieving fair pay for a fair days work is not just limited to trade unions but also the Fair Trade Movement.

Fair Trade Day is held every year on the 2nd Saturday in May and this year the theme is Children and how fair trade affects them.

It is well known that children in Developing Countries play a far more vital part in producing goods than those in the West.

Whether it be through the exploitation in Sweat Shops or helping their families in their farms, kids in the Developing World are involved in producing a lot of the goods that we see in the west.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that almost 126 million Children aged 5 -15 work in hazardous conditions world wide (Fair Trade Website). Many of these kids are trapped in slavery while others are confined to their cycle of poverty that requires them to work long hours in family businesses.

The good news is that by supporting the fair trade movement (through buying certified products) we are able to help producers develop a sustainable livelihood as well as ensure that they are less dependant on the labour of their children. The Fair Trade brand guarantees that no child needs to be trafficked or substitute work for education in the production of the products that we buy.

Biodiversity Day is another important issue that is being highlighted this month by Biodiversity Action Day. While it is not directly linked to Fair Trade, climate change directly influences the production of agricultural produce such as coffee, rice and fruit.

As the Biodiversity Action website day points out, those highly populated areas that surround the river deltas in Asia will be hardest hit, with poor people and their livelihoods being most affected.

While climate change and biodiversity are huge issues and will not be solved over night, by taking little steps to reduce the negative impacts of climate change and improving biodiversity we can ensure that the producers in the developing world are able to develop products that are available for trade.

So, the next time you run out of coffee or feel like some chocolate I encourage you to buy fair trade products so that those who produce coffee and chocolate can get fair price for their labour.
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