All the countries in BRIC have put in place workers’ rights, which is a common element. Putting in place the rights even if they are not comprehensive is the first step words guaranteeing workers’ rights. The governments have set in the maximum working hours per week in each country. In India, the period is 44 hours per week, 48 hours in India, 40 hours in china, and 40 hours in Russia (2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices n.d.). In this case, there is a commonality in that all the countries have set maximum working hours, which prevent overworking of employees.
All the BRIC countries have put in place laws that prohibit discrimination in employment. No one should be discriminated based on sex, gender, race, disability, citizenship, language, sexual orientation, or any other factor (2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices n.d.). Despite the laws being in place, discrimination existed in all the four countries, especially in the informal sector. Women and LGBT were discriminated in almost all the workplaces with the enforcement of laws proving too difficult in all the countries.
Brazil, India, and Russia had a nationally set minimum wage, which was usually revisited to account for the changing conditions. The Chinese government had not set a national minimum wage but mandated the local and provincial governments to set their own. Lack of a minimum wage explains why some multinationals exploit the Chinese workforce where, for instance, Hongfujin manufacturing parts for Apple paid employees less than 50 dollars per month ((Hill, 2008, p. 132). Such acts place multinationals in an ethical dilemma on whether to proceed with the operations or leave citing the abuses ((Hill, 2008, p. 139). The multinationals are torn between either pulling out of the contracts or compelling these companies to respect employees’ rights.
The country’s approach to forced labor and enforcement of such laws was different in the countries. In India and Brazil, for instance, the laws prohibited all forms of forced labor, and the government took various steps to effect the provisions. Cases of forced labor were, however, prevalent in the bonded system and agriculture, but the government collaborated with the relevant institutions like ILO to stop its prevalence. China, too, had prohibited forced labor, but it was prevalent in government and private institutions (2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices n.d.). Some of the government institutions, including rehabilitation centers and prisons, used minorities like Uighurs women for forced work. Russia prohibited forced labor but was still enforced by the government targeting those in prisons.
It is, therefore, evident that there existed some commonalities and differences in workers’ rights in BRIC countries. The rights were mostly guided by the form of government where India and Brazil are more democratic and hence protect the worker’s rights to a larger extent. The Russian and Chinese governments are not democratic, and therefore, the workers’ rights are limited. All the countries have legislated the rights, but the last two did little to implement them. The issue is thus linked to the leadership where if it is committed, the incidences are few like in India, while unconcerned leadership leads to rights violation (Hill, 2008, p.141). The United States government needs to ensure its policy in Russia, and China seeks to address the human rights abuses perpetrated by the government.mm
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