Child labor reports and important documents produced by advocacy groups and governments.

Filipino children risk death to dive and dig for gold

By Deborah Andrews, CLC Contributing Writer

Deborah Andrews the real oneIn September 2015, Human Rights Watch released a report, “Phillipines: Children Risk Death to Dig and dive for Gold,” exposing the desperate working conditions of many of those involved in the Filipino gold mining industry. It is a worthy, informative and thought provoking read. In 2014, the Philippines produced 18 tons of gold. HRW researchers discovered that an estimated 70-80% came from small-scale mines, financed by local businessmen and operated without any basic machinery. These mines are worked by 200,000-300,000 people — many of them children aged 11-17, but some as young as 9 years old.

Most gold in the Philippines is underwater. To mine it, workers dive into narrow shafts often ten yards deep and only two feet wide. Using oxygen tubes to breathe, operated by a diesel compressor at the surface, workers can stay mining under water for 1-2 hours at a time. This is hazardous work. HRW researchers found that compressors frequently break due to mudslides; workers get extremely cold underwater; the diesel compressors can cause carbon monoxide poisoning; and a bacterium in the water causes a skin disease known as Romborombo that leaves skin irritated and infected.

Dry shafts can be 25 yards deep and have oxygen pumped into them by an air blower. Workers often work up to 24-hour shifts with only a short break above ground. There are frequent accidents. In 2014, two brothers suffocated, but the practice continues.

Disturbingly, HRW report authors discovered that mercury is widely used to process the gold. Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, causing muscle spasms, brain damage, permanent disability, and even death. It is particularly harmful to children’s developing nervous systems. This unrestricted mercury use is now also contaminating the fish population, a vital food source – further endangering the people.

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NCL’s 2015 Five Most Dangerous Jobs For Teens:

Tips for Teen Workers, Parents, and Employers to Help Working Teens Stay Safe in the Work Place

 The National Consumers League’s Guide, Updated Annually

Report author: Reid Maki,

Director of Child Labor Advocacy

National Consumers League


Introduction: Although fatality rates are dropping, we continue to lose too many children at work

No parent thinks their child will be hurt at work, but according to the Children’s Safety network, about every 9 minutes a U.S. teen is hurt on the job.

In July 2014 in Duvall, Washington, 19-year-old Bradley Hogue was killed by a rotating auger—a metal device like a giant corkscrew while working inside the bark-blower truck. In January this year, the state of Washington assessed employer Pacific Topsoils with penalties totaling $199,000, noting that employers were regularly exposed to three mechanical hazards that could seriously injure or kill them.

In October 2014, an Idaho teen, 18-year-old Jeremy McSpadden, Jr., of Spokane Valley, Washington portraying a zombie at a Halloween haunted hayride died tragically. The boy, wearing a mask, emerged from a corn maze, stumbled on uneven ground, lost his footing and fell under the rear wheel of the bus. He was killed instantly.

In May of 2015, Kyle Sing, 15, was putting in a fence on his family’s farm in Eldridge, Missouri when he became caught in the auger he was using to dig post holes. A family friend described the accident on Facebook: “The auger jumped out of the of the hole and grabbed a metal cattle panel, which grabbed Kyle and wrapped him, the panel and the T post all together.”… Read the rest

CLC PRESS RELEASE: Child Labor Coalition applauds progress in child labor remediation suggested by US government’s 2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

For immediate release: October 14, 2014
Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820,

Washington, DC–The Child Labor Coalition (CLC), whose 34 member organizations fight exploitative child labor, welcomed news in the US Department of Labor’s 2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report released last week, suggesting significant progress is being made in the war to reduce child labor internationally. “The report is another sign that good progress is being made in efforts to reduce child labor around the world,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the CLC and executive director of the National Consumers League.

According to USDOL, nine percent of the countries assessed—nearly one in 10—reported “significant advancement” in their child labor responses, and half of the countries assessed experienced moderate advancement. Nearly six in 10 countries assessed made significant or moderate advancement; 36 percent—just over one in three—were judged to have made minimal or no advancement.

“The numbers look even better if you dig a little deeper,” said Greenberg. “The 13 countries that USDOL said had made significant advancement are mostly ones that have battled substantial child labor problems—advancement in those countries (Albania, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia, and Uganda) is very encouraging.”

“Likewise,” Greenberg said, “the 13 countries that made no advancement included only five countries with large numbers of child laborers: the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela.” The other eight countries on this list include several small island nations. “If you compare numbers between the 2011 assessment period and the new report covering 2013,” said Greenberg, “the progress is dramatic: the number of countries making significant child labor advancement went from two to 13; those making moderate advancement went from 47 to 72. Those are encouraging results.”

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Asia Leads World in Child-Labor Products: US Report


WASHINGTON – India, Bangladesh and the Philippines lead the world in the number of products made by child workers, a US government stock-taking of the global scale of underaged labor revealed Monday.

Some 130 types of goods – from building bricks and soccer balls to pornography and rare ores used in cellphones – involve child labor in 71 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the Department of Labor said.

“We believe that we all have God-given potential … and every child should be given the right to fulfil their dreams,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at the release of the 10th annual “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.”

Focusing this year on hazardous work performed by children, and relying in good part on International Labor Organization data, the report examines efforts by more than 140 countries to address the worst forms of child labor.

The International Labor Organization estimates that more than 215 million children are involved in child labor.

One-third of countries have yet to define hazardous kinds of work prohibited to children, it said. Some nations have no minimum age for such work, and still more lack the means to monitor and enforce bans on dangerous child labor.

A rundown of goods produced by child labor, issued alongside the report, underlined the degree to which youngsters in developing nations are forced to work, rather than go to school, for little if any wages.

India topped the list, with its children being used to make no fewer than 20 products, including bidis, bricks, fireworks, footwear, glass bangles, incense, locks, matches, rice, silk fabric and thread, and soccer balls.… Read the rest