Child Labor Laws Globally: Regulations
When people hear about federal child labor laws, the first thing they imagine is a sweatshop. They imagine children making low - quality clothes in some dingy sweatshops around the world. It does not only happen in other countries, but it also happens in the United States. The novel Girl In Translation, written by Jean Kwok, is about eleven years old Kimberly Chang, a Chinese immigrant that moves from Hong Kong to New York. She starts a new life in the United States. Kim's first job is working in the sweatshop (factory) where she meets fourteen-year-old Matt who came to the United States five years prior to Kim. Desperate for money to help their families, they work in the factories. Aunt Paula is Kim’s relative. She is elegant and fashionable. According to Exhibit 2.1, “Federal Limits on the Hours and the Type of Work that 14-and-15-Year-Olds May Perform”, there are limits of hours and conditions that companies must maintain in order for 14-and-15-year olds to work in the factories. Aunt Paula has a sweatshop (factory) in New York and her factory breaks federal laws by employing children under hazardous work conditions, employing underage children workers, and having children work for long hours.
Aunt Paula’s factory breaks federal child labor laws by employing children under hazardous work conditions. The work environment is dirty, has unsafe conditions and there is an increased risk for an accident. It has poor ventilation and hot air. The article “LA garment industry rife with sweatshop conditions”, informs that the workers have eye and nose irritation from dangerous chemicals and the places does not have clean drinking water. Furthermore, the workers are also working with dangerous tools, transport heavy material, and are exposed to toxic substances. “Federal Limits on the Hours and the Type of Work than 14-and 15-Year-Olds May Perform”, proposes that young employees may work in a variety of non-production and non-dangerous places of work. There are restricted laws for it. Aunt Paula tours Kim and Ma around the factory, Kim sees an enormous cloud of steam, and she does not know what it is. She feels that the heat and noise at the factory are different from outside, but she does not know where it comes out from. Then, she understands that the heat has come out from four massive steaming stations. Kim illustrates, “Summer in the factory was one long rush of heat amid the deafening roar of the fans. Summer became a wordless time for us. The windows remained hermetically sealed and a tall fan was swathed in all dust” (Kwok, 120). The temperature must have to be high as over 100 degrees. This high-temperature causes heat stress, burns, and injuries to workers. The heat from the steamers causes everyone soaking wet thought everyone was takes bathed and dust getting worse than a usual day the dust from the fabrics attached itself to the workers. The heat at the factory is muffling and Kim feels like she cannot breathe and the factory is covered with fabric. The factory is dirty and has no air. Working in poor conditions will affect the employee’s physical and mental health. Action needs to be taken by the government and individual corporations to improve the working condition in the factory. According to the article “Does ‘Made in the USA’ Mean Not In a Sweatshop?”, in 2012 a garment worker at an American Apparel establishment tried to remove a jammed piece of fabric and he got stuck in the machine. He died from his injury.
Secondly, the factory breaks federal laws by having underage workers. “Federal Limits on the Hours and the Types of Work that 14-and 15-Year-Olds May Perform”, suggests children fourteen to fifteen years of age may perform work outside of school session hours. The sweatshop has underage children work because they can pay them less. Kim works at the factory at the age of eleven and Matt at age fourteen. Kim is not the only kid working in the factory. During break times, Kim meets Matt; he is also working at the factory. Matt works at the thread cutters station and Kim sees “The tiny old ladies and kids were busy examining the garment in their hands snipping off the excess thread with special scissors that spring back open after each cut. Some of the children were young as five years old” (Kwok, 34). It is shocking that children as young as five works in poor conditions like this. The children that work in the factory are essential to their family income. However, the children should be in school, rather than in work like this. These circumstances are very unhealthy for these children because it causes permanent physical, social, and moral damage ultimately leading towards death.
Lastly, the factory breaks federal child labor laws by having children work overtime. The factory violates federal limits on time and days of work. “Federal Limit on the Hours and the Types of Work that 14-and 15-Year-Olds May Perform”, confirms that there is a limit to the hours and time, and days of work for the children. The children cannot work for more than 3 hours during schooldays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The exception is during the summer, and then the children can work in the evening to 9 p.m. Kim and Ma work long hours depending on the shipment day, and they also bring the work home to finish. In the summer, Kim works full time at the factory. On the first day of work, Kim gets off at 9 p.m. which is considered early. A day before her test Kim stays up late because, “A shipment needed to go out at the factory, we didn’t get home until past two a.m.”(Kwok, 194). By working too many hours children do not get the right amount of sleep they need, which is not good for their health. In Kim’s case, she has a big test the next day she needed rest for study. Her schooling is supposed to be more important than working in a dangerous factory. Children should be able to get the right amount of sleep, so they do not get sick and also they need to do well in school.
As you can see Aunt Paula’s factory breaks too many federal child labor laws by employing children under hazardous work conditions, employing underage workers and working overtime. I understand that being a business owner is stressful and challenging. It’s not easy and people always think business owners are rich and have an easy job. Business owners have so many responsibilities. They want to succeed and get rich at the cost of child labor. However, violating child labor laws is unacceptable. Harsh working conditions and environments, insufficient pay and other factors are the illegal treatment of factory workers. The government should require improvements and working conditions for all employees and have stricter regulations on sweatshops and underage employment. Laws should be in place to protect the people and improve the treatment of people working in those environments. I think this topic is really important because it affects the lives of a lot of children globally. They are affected in their education, physical and mental health and overall safety condition. The children should be in school and have a better education. The workers deserve to be treated better. This issue will affect people nationwide. For example, if one country allows having child labor and other countries see it they may start to do the same thing. The government should enforce strict laws for sweatshops.
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