Monday 21 March 2011

Children demand respect for their rights as workers

In Bolivia, where there are an estimated 850,000 working children, members of the country’s largest union of child workers, UNATSBO, have sent a proposal to the government in which they call for their rights as workers to be recognised. Several of the children’s demands include legislative amendments to recognise that work for children begins at age six, not at age 14, as the law currently provides; protection against exploitative or hazardous work, or work that hinders a child’s health and physical, mental and social development; and that their salaries be brought in-line with the national minimum wage. Bolivians approved a new constitution last year, and legislators are currently in the process of rewriting existing laws to conform to the new legal code. The children's unions are pushing lawmakers to reform the Code of Children and Adolescents, which governs child labor.They want to ensure that children earn the same wages and have the same financial tools as their adult counterparts. In some sectors, they earn less than half the salary of their adult colleagues. Moreover, children don't have access to savings accounts and often give their earnings directly to their parents. Union members also lobby for safe work environments and for better medical care, especially for children whose jobs present a health risk.
The lack of recognition of children who work forms one of the major obstacles in achieving better living conditions for working children.

Read more:
Child workers of Bolivia Unite!
Niños y adolescentes trabajadores exigen garantías
"Mi fortaleza es mi trabajo"
by UNATSBO (the publication is in Spanish only)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! This labour law making process is a very interesting instance of participation by and for children! Thank you, Hank, for the information and the link to the article.
According to sources in Bolivia the child labour eradicationists have already started mobilising against UNATSBO. This again shows their utter disrespect for children's rights to participation and to better lives. And the pity is: UNICEF has a a part in this when it treats children's work as solely an ILO topic, and not as a children's rights topic.