The major cigarette company in the United States has launched new child labor requirements that will forbid children under 16 from doing the job on U.S. tobacco farms. Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris International, producers of Marlboro cigarettes, stated their new labor criteria would become effective in their 2015 contracts with growers.
In accordance with the new agreements, Altria will demand parental permission for children under 18 operating in tobacco farms.
“Altria and its companies keep on being fully committed to dealing with the crucial matters of child labor in tobacco farming,” stated Jeffrey Caldwell, representative for Altria. He shared with Fusion that observance of the new principles would be carried out through third party companies that keep track of the company’s supply chain.
A Fusion Investigates report released at an earlier time this year identified children as young as 8 working together with their parents in tobacco fields in North Carolina. Fusion’s story came after the May 2014 Human Rights Watch report that determined child tobacco workers on U.S. farms are subjected to nicotine, pesticides and excessive heat.
Parents of children being employed in tobacco fields shared with Fusion that their kids work together with them in order to supplement their household profits. Tobacco workers are usually paid a per hour minimal wage for cutting tobacco, and get money a by-piece rate for cropping.
Questioned if Altria had a provision that would offer considerably better pay for workers to guarantee that parents will not have to depend on their children, Caldwell stated, “We have no manage over pay. The pay is between the farmers and the labor they employ.”
The new labor regulation is being acclaimed as an essential progress.
“Altria Group has made a crucial step toward guarding youngsters from the hazards of tobacco farming,” mentioned Margaret Wurth, children’s rights specialist at Human Rights Watch.
Yet, more requirements to be carried out, advocacy groups states. Norma Flores, leader of Children in the Fields Campaign at the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Program, claims the tobacco industry must forbid all young adults under 18 from working in tobacco fields.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 set up the minimal wage, the 40-hour workweek and forbidden the majority of children from working in industries. However, agriculture has generally been an exclusion. According to the law, children under 12 are permitted to work in farming.
R.J. Reynolds, the second giant cigarette maker in the United States, does not own a child labor policy in place.