Letter: Fighting child labour

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It is important when raising the issue of child labour ("Boycotts won't eradicate child labour, says Short", 19 November) that the onus of responsibility is placed on the large, wealthy and influential multinationals to improve conditions for workers and provide health and education services, as well as on governments.

We are constantly bombarded by companies' high-minded "ethical" codes of conduct and mission statements.

In the run up to the WTO Seattle talks, I am sure that more glossy brochures will be sent to me by multinational corporations defending themselves against the criticism of campaigning groups and aid agencies.

International companies should spend less on glossy brochures and more on practical steps to improve the economic and social welfare of the countries in which they work, like providing education to children.

Arguments over the merits of boycotts draw attention away from taking steps to make a real difference now and to turn the rhetoric of governments and multinationals into action.

Dr JENNY TONGE MP

(Lib Dem, Richmond Park)

House of Commons

London SW1

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