NCL Expresses Grave Concern about Bolivia’s Decision to Lower the Age of Work to Ten

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization with a long history of fighting to improve child labor laws in the US and abroad, decries the decision last week by Bolivia to enact a new law that lowers the age of work from 14 to 10.

“Ten-year-olds belong in school–not in mines, forests, and factories. Bolivia’s baffling action is a huge step backward and endangers the country’s 500,000 to 850,000 working children,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, who is also the co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which NCL has co-chaired for 25 years. “In the last decade, the world has made remarkable progress in reducing abusive child labor by one-third, according to estimates by the International Labour Organization.”

“Our great fear is that the health and safety of Bolivia’s many thousands of children in hazardous work–like mining–will be endangered as a larger number of children sent out to work by their families will be legally employed,” said Reid Maki, NCL’s Director of Child Labor Advocacy and the coordinator of the CLC. The US Department of Labor lists nuts, bricks, corn, gold, silver, sugarcane, tin and zinc as products produced with child labor in the country–children are already doing some of the most grueling work in the world in Bolivia.”

“Bolivian government officials have said that they are unable to control child labor and that lowering the age of work will lead to greater protection of child workers because their work will now be legal,” noted NCL’s Greenberg.… Read the rest

Jo Becker of Human Rights Watch: Putting 10-Year-olds to Work Doesn’t Solve Poverty

The Bolivian Congress passed a misguided bill last week that would allow children as young as 10 to work legally. If President Morales signs the bill into law, Bolivia will become the only country in the world with a legal employment age so low.

Supporters of the bill argue that children in Bolivia need to work out of economic necessity and lowering the working age can help address extreme poverty. But child labor isn’t a solution to poverty – research shows it perpetuates it. Children who work are more likely to miss out on school and end up in a lifetime of low-wage work.

Bolivia’s bill includes certain “safeguards,” such as parental consent and the voluntary participation of children. But “voluntary” consent means little in the case of a 10-year-old. In my research, I’ve found that young children are rarely able to resist family pressure to go to work. A young girl I interviewed in Morocco, for example, endured beatings from her employer and worked extreme hours because she felt obliged to help her family.

The bill also states that work by young children should not interfere with their education. But studies show that, even when working children have access to school, their education suffers. Children who work are often too tired to complete their homework or maintain regular attendance, and are far more likely to drop out of school.

Child labor may be seen as a short-term solution to economic hardship, but is actually a cause of poverty. People who start work as children end up with less education and lower earnings as adults.… Read the rest

CLC Co-Chair Dr. Lorretta Johnson’s Plenary Speech at the Brazil Child Labor Conference

Dr. Johnson (far right) pictured here with CLC members Jackie Starr, Norma Flores Lopez, Judy Gearhart, and Reid Maki (left to right)

Child labor advocates from around the world were allowed to give four-minute plenary speeches during the 2013 Brazil Child Labor conference. Three members of the CLC gave speeches: Dr. Lorretta Johnson, Judy Gearhart, and Jo Becker. The latter two will be posted here in the coming days.

Hello, everyone! My name is Dr. Lorretta Johnson, secretary-treasurer for the American Federation of Teachers.

I’m also co-chair for the Child Labor Coalition, an organization dedicated to stopping the exploitation of children in the workforce around the world.

Today, as we all know, millions of children are being pushed, pulled, prodded, or worse into the labor force.

There are children making bricks under the searing sun in Pakistan…

There are children who manufacture clothing in dangerous factories over in Bangladesh…

There are children who are forced to pick cotton in Uzbekistan…

There are children forced to perform as sex workers in places like Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia…

And even in the United States, we have hundreds of thousands of children being exploited as farmworkers and agricultural labor.

At the American Federation of Teachers, we believe every child deserves a future. We believe in a quality education for all children, regardless of where you live or who you are.

It’s the great equalizer.

But that path starts with early childhood education programs and effective community schools…

It does not start with forced labor!

Read more

USDOL to Fund $9 Million Project for Child Labor Remediation in Colombia’s Mining Sector

News Release

ILAB News Release: [05/20/2013]
Contact Name: Gloria Della or Egan Reich
Phone Number: (202) 693-4679 or x4960
Email:
Della.Gloria.D@dol.gov or Reich.Egan.2@dol.gov
Release Number: 13-0972-NAT

$9 million in funding available from US Labor Department to reduce child labor in Colombia

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs today announced a $9 million competitive grant solicitation for one or more projects to reduce child labor in the artisanal mining sector of Colombia.

Thousands of children work in Colombia’s mining sector, where they labor alongside adults and are exposed to physical injuries, dangerous tools, hazardous substances, toxic gases and explosions. Many people are not aware that children face these hazards.

One or more qualifying organizations will receive funding to support Colombia’s efforts to identify and combat child labor in the mining sector, including by increasing educational opportunities for children and improving the livelihoods of families involved in artisanal mining. The project(s) will address occupational safety concerns to reduce the risk of injuries to adult miners and the corresponding loss of household income that can contribute to child labor. In addition, the project(s) will improve interagency coordination to provide social services to children engaged in mining and fund an exchange program with other countries to share strategies on activities covered by the grant(s).

Applications must be submitted by July 19 at 5 p.m. EDT electronically via http://www.grants.gov or as hard copies mailed to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Procurement Services, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room S-4307, Washington, DC 20210, Attention: Brenda White.… Read the rest