This speech was delivered by Free Youth Internet editor James Russell at a November 30th Rally on the Amherst Massachusetts town common against the World Trade Organization, occuring simultaneously with the main Anti-WTO protest in Seattle
Today, on this international day of action, I speak of a problem that is hidden away from our eyes. Child labor, that most insidious form of worker exploitation, that turns a helpless child into another cog in the machine of the global economy. It is something most of us may not know much about, but which the staff of the World Trade Organization knows perfectly well occurs, and they are consciously and willfully ignoring the plight of child laborers in their runaway pursuit of profits, no matter what the cost. Imagine your child, or one you care about, forced to work long hours under hellish conditions for the profit of a far-off CEO. Even the coldest heart must find this picture shocking. But the hearts of the WTO leaders must be colder than ice.
In their undemocratic show trials, the WTO has consistently ruled against anything that is considered a barrier to "free trade", such as laws protecting children from exploitation. According to WTO policy, it is illegal for a nation to ban or boycott a product for how it is made, even if it is made by children or slaves, such as soccer ball industry of Pakistan. Nations can even be punished by fine for refusing to buy products made by children! The WTO is an organization without one iota of conscience. It's support of so-called "trade liberalization" is a shallow euphemism for beating every ounce of profit they can get out of workers, no matter what their age or the conditions they work on.
International conglomerates are in a race to the bottom, chasing the lowest price of production and highest profit. . If using indentured servants or children lowers the bottom line, they will do so, with the support of the WTO. Hiding behind the closed doors of their Seattle conference the WTO...