Consumer power against unfair labour practices

WORKERS are generally exposed to numerous risks since every single activity, including basic day-to-day tasks, has some level of exposure. But those who are forced into certain labour practices, including child labour, are more vulnerable.

Alarmingly, individuals between 15 and 24 years of age constitute 15% of the global labour force of 541 million young workers, according to the International Labour Organization’s statistics. Of this, 37 million youths aged between 15 and 17 are involved in hazardous labour activities.

In Malaysia, strict laws and regulations prohibit exploitation of the under-aged. These laws are supported by mandates on minimum wages as well as working hours, among others.

As individuals, we too can and must strive to combat exploitation of labour in any form, and we can do this through responsible consumerism.

To do this, we need to know the realities that go into putting together goods and services for mass consumption. Such knowledge will drive ethical decision-making, where we buy goods and services that are manufactured with innovative processes that minimise the use of natural resources and wastage and responsible business practices. This includes strict policies to uphold employee wellbeing, including eliminating abuses such as cheap labour.

Promoting sustainable consumerism entails an end-to-end awareness of activities taking place across the value chain of a business.

This heightened level of scrutiny among consumers will compel businesses and service providers to be more transparent with their activities.

Consumer leadership will also redefine the operational landscape for businesses by paving the way for socially responsible practices.

We can and must play a significant role because lives matter. Regulators are doing a great job, and many businesses are too. It is time we as consumers do our part.

Happy Labour Day 2018!


Kuala Lumpur