Many issues arise when dealing with these problems. It has been shown that the crisis in coffee prices exacerbates poverty, by lowering wages, forcing children into the workforce and providing even less in the way of proper living conditions. The crisis also forces local producers to bend the law. By cutting down labourer's wage, they hope to minimize production cost and be able to compete in the market. Further, international standards set by the ILO are not enforced. Each country has its own laws, defines its own minimum wage, and manages its own form of child labor laws.
Another problem is the social and cultural acceptance of child labour and discrimination against women. In many developing countries like Indonesia or Vietnam, it is the child's duty to help their parents. In Guatemala, women are expected to obey men, look after the children and take care of the family. Apart from their reproductive function, they are barely recognized for doing "men's work".
In order to remove discrimination, toughen child labour laws, and improve the living and working conditions of these people, a united effort from producers, governments, international organizations, and consumers is required.
From the producers:
Code of conduct: Many companies have implemented their own code of conduct, which particularly bars child labour. The ICO's 4C (common code for the coffee community) released in September 2004 has one whole "Social Dimension" which states that workers should receive proper working and living conditions.
From the government and organizations:
Development projects: Projects such as the Coffee Kids project aims at funding scholarships to encourage coffee children to study. Currently, statistics on child labour and surveys on the living and working conditions of coffee workers are rare. Projects and surveys on this matter are needed to urge governments to take appropriate actions. Government and organizations should also collaborate to overcome and prevent price crisises. Please see the Crisis section for more details.
From the consumers:
Fair Trade: The Fair Trade movement aims at eliminating middlemen in the supply chain and ensuring a minimum price for farmers. This would help coffee farmers to escape poverty, and hence reduce child labour. Direct relationships with the estates also help companies to exert pressure on them to treat workers fairly and to stop child labour. Fair Trade entirely depends on YOU - the consumer. So take actions NOW!
The International Labour Organization (ILO)
The International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)
Commission for the Verification of Codes of Conduct (COVERCO)
Organic Consumers Association
Global March Against Child Labour
Industrial Workers of the World
US-LEAP – Coffee Workers Campaigns
Tea and Coffee Trade Online – The Plight of Coffee’s Children