Workplace Violence, Child Labor in Nigeria

Robert Evans, Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – Some 15 million children work in Nigeria, often in dangerous jobs, and many workers in Africa’s most populous nation live in fear of violence from police and employers, the global labor grouping ITUC said on Monday.

The report said many core international labor standards that the energy-rich African giant has signed up to were regularly breached and there was widespread discrimination against women and minority groups in the labor market.

“Some 15 million children are at work, many in dangerous jobs,” said the ITUC — the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation, which represents some 175 million workers in 151 countries, including Nigeria, around the world.

“Unions frequently experience violent attacks and there is little protection from anti-union discrimination,” said the report submitted to the 153-member World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva.

Women and minority groups face discrimination in getting jobs and getting promotion, it said. “The gender pay gap stands at 68 percent and the majority of women are employed in precarious and informal economic activities.”

The WTO is this week discussing Nigeria’s trade policies, a process through which all its members pass regularly, and the ITUC insists that the trade body should also look at labor practices.

But WTO officials, and most developing country trade diplomats, say labor conditions — despite efforts in the past by the United States and some European countries to bring them in — remain outside its remit.

Nigeria, with a population of some 155 million and extensive oil resources, has ratified all eight of the core International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions protecting workers’ rights including freedom of unions to organize and ending child labor.

But in a statement with the report, which detailed attacks on workers and union offices, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said, “Nigeria has failed to live up to this. Many Nigerian workers live in fear of employer and police violence.

“This failure not only hurts Nigerians — it also undermines efforts by other governments to uphold decent employments standards in the globalized economy,” Burrow declared.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)


How U.S. Budget Cuts Prolong Global Slavery

By E. Benjamin Skinner
NY Times

Three days before the U.S. congressional elections last fall, Hillary Clinton stood halfway around the world from Washington, pledging to young victims of human trafficking at Cambodia’s Siem Reap Center that they would continue to enjoy the support of the U.S. State Department, which then provided some $336,000 to the shelter. The acclaimed center, situated near the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat, was an oasis of peace for some 50 survivors who, before they were rescued or escaped, had endured slavery in brothels, where they were forced to have sex with as many as 30 men a day. At the shelter, they received counseling, studied hairdressing, learned to sew, and otherwise worked to rebuild their lives and reclaim their humanity. In the evenings, they did aerobics together.

On Monday afternoon, some eight months after that visit, as she unveiled the State Department’s 11th annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report to a packed room in the department’s ornate Benjamin Franklin Room, Clinton only hinted that the result of the congressional elections had left in doubt the long-term value of her pledge to the survivors. “Even in these tight economic times, we need to find ways to do better,” Clinton told the overflowing crowd. (Watch “Nepal: Escaped from the Sex Trade, Unable to Go Home.”) Read more


Child Labor Horror – 16,000 being Forced to Work in Jamaica

Jamaica’s child labourers mainly boys 15-17

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Observer staff reporter

AT least 16,000 Jamaican children are being forced to engage in some form of economic activity, even as the Government tries to stem the problem through work with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Marva Ximinnies, director of the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, said of the 16,000 child labourers, just over 7,000 are engaged in more hazardous work — which includes prostitution, the production of pornographic material and child slavery. This information, she explained, was taken from the last official survey that the ministry relies on for its data.

The majority of Jamaica’s child workers are found in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, while there have been prosecutions of persons who involve children in prostitution, she said. Other workers include street children and market vendors in the larger metropolitan areas of Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay.

Jamaica’s child labourers are predominantly male, aged 15-17 years.

“Over 60 per cent of the children involved in child labour are usually found to be working in the agricultural sector. There were also children found to be working in manufacturing, construction and installation, while in wholesales and restaurants, a little over 4,000 were found to be working in those particular sectors,” Ximinnies said last week while addressing the Kiwanis Club of Kingston’s weekly luncheon held at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.

“We have prosecuted and convicted persons trying to solicit children for prostitution,” Ximinnies explained. “Despite the work that we have been doing for the past 20 years we still have at least 215 million children remaining worldwide who are engaging in some form of economic activity. We have made great strides, however, as when we started there were a little over 500 million children who were so engaged.”

Ximinnies said the ministry is making efforts to conduct a second survey.

“We want to believe that the numbers are going south and not going north, and is due to our continued efforts by the various programmes that we have implemented, and that we are making an impact upon the lives of our children,” she said.

Data on the number of child labourers was found in the 2002 Youth Activity Survey in Jamaica, undertaken as part of a national programme to address the issue of child labour. Under Jamaican law, it is illegal for children under 15 years old to be engaged in any form of work.

“We have a particular situation in terms of domestic child labour, where persons send their child to other members of the family who are better off socially or economically to provide that child with economic conditions. And despite the fact that up to the primary level children are supposed to go to school free… that child is left in the home to become the domestic help for the family,” Ximinnies said.

This, she said, is a hidden activity that is not easily identified. Thus, it would take much vigilance from and concern of neighbours to notice and report these matters.

Ximinnies explained that the national response to child labour has been to implement a country programme and collect child labour data from various entities, including international partners. The Government, she said, is also working with a number of government and non-governmental organisations in trying to eradicate the problem.

The ILO, in its observance of World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, encouraged renewed urgency in tackling the worst forms of child labour.

Ximinnies reminded her audience that the Child Care and Protection Act does not exempt citizens from acting in a child’s interest, and anyone who suspects abuse is mandated to report it.

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Bringing More Danger Than Cash – Teens should be cautious of some summer jobs

By: Nicole Collier

TOLEDO, Ohio (WUPW) – When summer jobs are hard to find, teens might get desperate for work and cash.

Minimum wage might not be enough to fund all of a teens summer plans. One local author says when opportunities seem too good to be true, offering chances for travel and loads of cash, teens should beware.

Adventure, travel, rock and roll.

At the age of 18, Adam Brandt was looking to start a career, and was seduced by a newspaper ad for work promising those three things.

The job was selling magazines, but Brandt says the job was more about selling lies. It required him to be a different person every day.

“I’m so and so from whichever college was in town,” Brandt explained. “As a part of our trip or year end classwork we’re selling magazines. Generally people feel more comfortable opening up their wallets to someone that’s local and from the neighborhood who’s trying to accomplish something.”

Brandt says traveling sales groups like these prey on teens with big dreams of making it.

“When you’re that age you want to do it on your own. You’re not going to tell your parents I’m doing this, or that, you say hey I got this job and I’m going to be traveling across the country making tons of money,” the author said. Read more


HRW Lauds New Landmark Treaty to Protect Domestic Workers Global Labor Standards for up to 100 Million People Worldwide

(Geneva, June 16, 2011) – The adoption by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on June 16, 2011, of a new, groundbreaking treaty to extend key labor protections to domestic workers will protect millions of people who have been without guarantees of their basic rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Governments, trade unions, and employers’ organizations that make up the ILO overwhelmingly voted to adopt the  ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which establishes the first global standards for the estimated 50 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are women and girls.

ILO members spent three years developing the convention to address the routine exclusion of domestic workers from labor protections guaranteed to other workers, such as weekly days off, limits to hours of work, and a minimum wage. Domestic workers face a wide range of grave abuses and labor exploitation, including excessive working hours without rest, non-payment of wages, forced confinement, physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and trafficking.

“Discrimination against women and poor legal protections have allowed abuses against domestic workers to flourish in every corner of the world,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This new convention is a long overdue recognition of housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers as workers who deserve respect and equal treatment under the law.”
Read more


Children Working in one of the world’s most dangerous mines in Bolivia

Thomas Nybo, UNICEF

POTOSÍ, Bolivia, (June 14, 2011) — Thirteen-year-old Agustin’s life revolves around mining. He lives in a shack right outside the entrance to a mine shaft at the famous Cerro Rico mine in the city of Potosí, where he worked two hard years digging for ore from the age of nine.

UNICEF’s Thomas Nybo reports on young Bolivian children working in one of the most dangerous mines in the world.

Back then, the older miners would only pay him the equivalent of $3 per day, so he quit and now leads tours of the mine instead.

Cerro Rico, which means ‘rich mountain’, has been called one of the most dangerous mines in the world. It’s been in operation for more than 400 years, and once held the richest supply of silver in the Americas.

“There aren’t too many children working here – it’s too dangerous,” Agustin says. “To get the minerals here, you need to go deep into the mine. Most kids work in mines that are less deep and easier.”

Read more


GOP Set to Roll Back Child Labor Laws

JESSICA VANEGEREN | The Capital Times |

If you’re a 16- or 17-year-old looking to make some good money this summer, you could be in luck.

Just in time for the long summer break, the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to vote this week on a proposal that would roll back the state’s child labor laws, making them the same as federal child labor laws that govern 16- and 17-year-old workers. The move would expand the number of hours 16- and 17-year-olds could work in any given week and on any given day, essentially treating them no differently than adults in the eyes of the law.

The proposed changes —  pushed by the Wisconsin Grocers Association — were included in a lengthy motion authored by Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and approved along party lines June 3 by the panel. They never received a public hearing and are now part of the proposed biennial state budget. Read more


More progress needed to reduce child labor; Urgent action required on Uzbekistan, Domestic Workers Convention, and U.S. farmworker children

Child Labor Coalition Press Release/For release: June 10, 2011

Washington, DC—As World Day Against Child Labor on June 12 approaches, the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) is alerting the public that more than 200 million children still toil around the world, often in dangerous jobs that threaten their health, safety, and education.

Here in the United States, the CLC is applauding the anticipated re-introduction of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), which Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) plans to sponsor once again next week. The legislation would close loopholes that permit the children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers to work for wages when they are only 12 and 13 years old, often in harsh conditions—10- to 12-hour days of bending over and performing repetitive tasks in 90- to 100-degree heat.

“It’s time to level the playing field by closing these loopholes, which go all the way back to 1938, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was introduced,” said CLC Co-Chair Sally Greenberg, the Executive Director of the National Consumers League, a consumer advocacy organization that has worked to eliminate abusive child labor since its founding in 1899. “We must offer these children the same protections that all other American kids enjoy.”

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Child Labor Continues – Unabatedly and Shamelessly

 From [] 

New Delhi : Pramod is all of nine. His tender age, however, does not give him the luxury of a carefree and fun-filled life. He and his younger brother toil on the streets of Delhi, selling cigarette and other tobacco products for a living.

“My family is very poor and there is not much scope to earn a decent living in my village in Kanpur,” Pramod told IANS, working in a kiosk in the INA market in south Delhi.

“That’s why I and my brother came to Delhi a year back and we have been selling cigarettes here to earn some money,” he added.

Said his younger brother, who said he was aged eight: “If we had enough money we wouldn’t have come here on our own… Maybe we could have gone to school.”  Read more


Firms must do more to Fight Child Labor – Norway Fund

By Oslo newsroom | Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) – Europe’s largest equity investor urged companies to step up the fight against child labour on Friday and said nearly half of the 527 companies it surveyed were failing to address the issue properly.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) manages Norway’s half-a-trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund, which invests the Norwegian state’s tax revenues from oil and gas activities abroad.

NBIM is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world along with those of the United Arab Emirates and China.

“In the three years since we began examining how companies manage child labour risks, we’ve seen an increase in the number of businesses that address these issues,” Anne Kvam, global head of ownership policy at NBIM, said in a statement.

“However, the overall level of reporting on these issues is still far too low and companies need to step up efforts if the international community is to meet targets for eliminating hazardous child labour by 2016.” Read more