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5 Giant Companies Who Use Slave Labor

Filed in archive Bad Business, Ethics by Gerri on May 1, 2012 | 4 Comments

5 Giant Companies Who Use Slave Labor

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Most of us support unethical practices with our purchases in some way, whether we want to — or even know about it — or not. Many large corporations utilize slave labor, and, even worse, child slave labor, when outsourcing their production. It’s not that they hate children; they just like money a lot better. Besides, most of these kids aren’t American, so the distance and hidden nature of these atrocities provide a level of depersonalization that acts as just another excuse to keep on doing it. Here are five huge companies who use or have used child labor to create something you or someone you know has bought.

Philip Morris

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In 2010, Philip Morris was “forced to admit” that at least 72 children were working on tobacco farms that sold to PM, some of which as young as ten years old. “Forced” is the key word in the last sentence; it was only after the Human Rights Watch uncovered a sordid tale of slavery and illegal practices on tobacco farms in Kazakhstan that Philip Morris took only partial responsibility for these problems.

Using child slaves, many of whom developed rashes on their necks and stomachs from handling the tobacco, wasn’t Morris’ only offense. The farms (who sold 1,500 tonnes of tobacco to PM in 2009 and other significant amounts to cigarette companies in Russia) utilized migrant workers for slave labor, often confiscating their passports and forcing them to work overtime without compensation.

Despite “regular and constructive dialogue” between Human Rights Watch and Philip Morris in 2010, it was later discovered that Philip Morris was failing to live up to their promises regarding putting a stop to these illegal and unethical practices. If the idea of poor families working 13-hour days for pennies while their small children slave in the tobacco fields at the risk of nicotine poisoning makes you feel bad, try to avoid purchasing the following:

Marlboro, Basic, Benson & Hedges, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Commander, Dave’s, English Ovals, Lark, L&M, Merit, Parliament, Players, Saratoga and Virginia Slims

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