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Welcome to the Child Labor Public

Education Project
Today, over 246 million children, many as young as five, are involved in child labor
around the globe. Child labor is work that harms children or keeps them from attending
school. It involves work by children under conditions that are hazardous, illegal, or

“I am the child.
All the world waits for my coming.
All the earth watches with interest to see what I shall become.
Civilisation hangs in the balance.
For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be.
I am the child.
You hold in your hand my destiny.
You determine, largely, whether I shall succeed or fail,
Give me, I pray you, these things that make for happiness.
Train me, I beg you, that I may be a blessing to the world.”

By Mamie Gene Cole.

Elimination of child labour is an article of faith and commitment on the

part of Government in the Ministry of Labour. Elimination of child labour,
however, can not be viewed as the sole concern of Ministry of Labour; it has to
be viewed as the concern of the whole nation. As a matter of fact, it has to be
viewed as a global concern. As the population increases at an alarming rate, as
more and more children are born year after year and as more and more children
enter the world of work at their school going age (5-14), this becomes a matter
of grave anxiety and concern to the policy formulators and the framers of law at
the national level.

Government has been alive to the need for release of these children from
hazardous work and for their rehabilitation – physical, emotional & economic
through education with a project approach. With this end and view the National
Policy on Child Labour was formulated in August, 1987 and the National Child
Labour Projects were conceptualized & launched around the same time. These
initiatives which were rather on a small scale in the beginning were
subsequently reinforced and strengthened by the announcement made by the
former Prime Minister on 15.08.1994 for the total liberation of all children (5-
14) who are employed in hazardous work and for their physical and emotional
rehabilitation through a composite package called National Child Labour
Projects which are to be administered by the District Child Labour Project
Society registered as such under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India delivered a landmark Judgement on

10.12.1996 in Civil Writ Petition No. 465/86 – M.C. Mehta Vs State of
Tamilnadu & Others through which the apex Court has issued a number of
directions to the Central Government as well as the State Governments. The
Judgement itself has created a new urgency and seriousness of concern in
regard to elimination of child labour by the Central Government, State
Governments, NGOs and all others who are concerned about this social malady
What is Child Labor?
Child labor is work that harms children or keeps them from attending school. Around the
world and in the U. S., growing gaps between rich and poor in recent decades have forced
millions of young children out of school and into work. The International Labor
Organization estimates that 246 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently
work under conditions that are considered illegal, hazardous, or extremely exploitative.
Underage children work at all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and
their families are extremely poor. Large numbers of children work in commercial
agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in
illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as
serving as soldiers.

Child labor involves at least one of the following characteristics:

• Violates a nation’s minimum age laws

• Threatens children’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being
• Involves intolerable abuse, such as child slavery, child trafficking, debt bondage,
forced labor, or illicit activities
• Prevents children from going to school
• Uses children to undermine labor standards

Where does most child labor occur?

Child labor can be found in nearly every industry


Nearly 70% of child labor occurs in agriculture, fishing, hunting, and forestry. Children
have been found harvesting:
• bananas in Ecuador
• cotton in Egypt and Benin
• cut flowers in Colombia
• oranges in Brazil
• cocoa in the Ivory Coast
• tea in Argentina and Bangladesh
• fruits and vegetables in the U.S.

Children in commercial agriculture can face long hours in extreme temperatures, health
risks from pesticides, little or no pay, and inadequate food, water, and sanitation.


Electroplate Worker

Photo: David Parker

About 15 million children are estimated to be directly involved in manufacturing goods

for export, including:

• Carpets from India, Pakistan, Egypt

• Clothing sewn in Bangladesh; footwear made in India and the Philippines
• Soccer balls sewn in Pakistan
• Glass and bricks made in India
• Fireworks made in China, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala,
India, and Peru
• Surgical instruments made in Pakistan

Mining and Quarrying

Photo: David Parker

Child laborers suffer extremely high illness and injury rates in underground mines,
opencast mines, and quarries. Children as young as 6 or 7 years old break up rocks, and
wash, sieve, and carry ore. Nine-year-olds work underground setting explosives and
carrying loads. Children work in a range of mining operations, including:

• Gold in Colombia
• Charcoal in Brazil and El Salvador
• Chrome in Zimbabwe
• Diamonds in Cote d’Ivoire
• Emeralds in Colombia
• Coal in Mongolia

Domestic Service

Many children, especially girls, work in domestic service, sometimes starting as young as
5 or 6. This type of child labor is linked to child trafficking. Domestic child laborers can
be victims of physical, emotional, and sometimes sexual abuse.

Hotels, Restaurants, and Retail

Photo: David Parker

Some of the work of young people in this sector is considered legitimate, but there are
indications of considerable abuse. Low pay is the norm, and in some tourist areas,
children’s work in hotels and restaurants is linked to prostitution. In at least one example,
child hotel workers received such low pay that they had to take out loans from their
employers; the terms of the interest and repayment often led to debt bondage.

“Unconditional Worst Forms” of Child Labor

Child Prostitute

Photo: David Parker

8.4 million children are involved in work that, under any circumstance, is considered
unacceptable for children, including the sale and trafficking of children into debt
bondage, serfdom, and forced labor. It includes the forced recruitment of children for
armed conflict, commercial sexual exploitation, and illicit activities, such as producing
and trafficking drugs.

Causes of Child Labor

Child labor persists even though laws and standards to eliminate it exist. Current causes
of global child labor are similar to its causes in the U.S. 100 years ago, including poverty,
limited access to education, repression of workers’ rights, and limited prohibitions on
child labor.

Poverty and unemployment levels are high.

Poor children and their families may rely upon child labor in order to improve their
chances of attaining basic necessities. About one-fifth of the world’s 6 billion people live
in absolute poverty. The intensified poverty in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America
causes many children there to become child laborers.

Access to compulsory, free education is limited.

Photo: David Parker

Approximately 125 million children in the world do not attend school, limiting future
opportunities for the children and their communities. The Global Campaign for Education
estimates that free, quality education for all children would cost ten billion dollars, the
same as 4 days of global military spending.

Existing laws or codes of conduct are often violated.

Even when laws or codes of conduct exist, they are often violated. For example, the
manufacture and export of products often involves multiple layers of production and
outsourcing, which can make it difficult to monitor who is performing labor at each step
of the process. Extensive subcontracting can intentionally or unintentionally hide the use
of child labor.

Carpet Weaver

Nepal, 1993

Photo: David Parker

Laws and enforcement are often inadequate.

Child labor laws around the world are often not enforced or include exemptions that
allow for child labor to persist in certain sectors, such as agriculture or domestic work.
Even in countries where strong child labor laws exist, labor departments and labor
inspection offices are often under-funded and under-staffed, or courts may fail to enforce
the laws. Similarly, many state governments allocate few resources to enforcing child
labor laws.

National Laws Often Include Exemptions


minimum age of 14 for most work...
plantations and brick kilns are exempt.
prohibits children under 16 from industrial work...
but excludes agriculture.
specifies a minimum age for work...
but sets no regulations on domestic work or agricultural work.

Workers’ rights are repressed.

Workers’ abilities to organize unions affect the international protection of core labor
standards, including child labor. Attacks on workers’ abilities to organize make it more
difficult to improve labor standards and living standards in order to eliminate child labor.
For example, in 2001, 10,000 workers were fired and 4,000 workers were arrested as a
result of their union activity, according to the International Confederation of Free Trade

The global economy intensifies the effects of some factors.

Photo: David Parker

As multinational corporations expand across borders, countries often compete for jobs,
investment, and industry. This competition sometimes slows child labor reform by
encouraging corporations and governments to seek low labor costs by resisting
international standards. Some U.S. legislation has begun to include labor standards and
child labor as criteria for preferential trade and federal contracts. However, international
free trade rules may prohibit consideration of child labor or workers’ rights.

The effects of poverty in developing countries are often worsened by the large interest
payments on development loans. The structural adjustments associated with these loans
often require governments to cut education, health, and other public programs, further
harming children and increasing pressure on them to become child laborers.

Debt and Child Welfare

The example of Sub-Saharan Africa

While debt payments soar,

Sub-Saharan Africa pays $40 million in debt each day.
Educational opportunities are few...
40% of Sub-Saharan African children receive no education
And getting fewer.
In the 1990’s, the number of children entering primary schools fell in 17 African

Health Issues
Physical Differences between Children and Adults May Increase
Children’s Work-related Risks

Working conditions that are safe and healthy for adults may not be safe and healthy for
children because of their physical differences. Risks may be greater for children at
various stages of development and may have long-term effects. Factors that may increase
the health, safety, and developmental risk factors for children include:
Match Factory Worker

India, 1993

Photo: David Parker

• Rapid skeletal growth

• Development of organs and tissues
• Greater risk of hearing loss
• Developing ability to assess risks
• Greater need for food and rest
• Higher chemical absorption rates
• Smaller size
• Lower heat tolerance

Injuries among Young Workers

• One quarter of economically active children suffer injuries or illnesses while

working, according to an International Labor Organization survey of 26 countries.
• Each year, as many as 2.7 million healthy years of life are lost due to child labor,
especially in agriculture.
• Many of the industries that employ large numbers of young workers in the United
States have higher-than-average injury rates for workers of all ages, such as
grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes, and agriculture.

Why do young workers have more accidents than adults?

Metal Worker

India, 1995

Photo: David Parker

• “Unskilled” and labor-intensive jobs may be risky.

• Training and supervision may be inadequate.
• Work may be illegal and inappropriate.
• Lesser experience at work can increase the risk of accidents.

Poverty: An Additional Risk Factor

• Low-income youth are more likely to work in high-risk occupations such as

agriculture, mining, and construction.
• Poverty-related health problems (e.g., malnutrition, fatigue, anemia) increase the
risks and consequences of work-related hazards and may lead to permanent
disabilities and premature death.

Psychosocial Effects of Child Labor

• Long hours of work on a regular basis can harm children’s social and educational
U.S. adolescents who work more than 20 hours per week have reported more
problem behaviors (e.g., aggression, misconduct, substance use), and sleep
deprivation and related problems (falling asleep in school). They are more likely
to drop out of school and complete fewer months of higher education.
• The unconditional worst forms of child labor (e.g., slavery, soldiering,
prostitution, drug trafficking) may have traumatic effects, including longer term
health and socioeconomic effects.

Hazards of Agricultural Child Labor

Photo: David Parker

Agriculture accounts for about 8% of youth employment in the U.S., but represents 40%
of work-related fatalities. Several conditions cause the relatively high rates of injuries,
health problems, and fatalities among agricultural child laborers:

• Exposure to pesticides
• Working with machinery and sharp tools
• Lack of clean water, hand-washing facilities, and toilets
• Beginning to work at very early ages, often between 5-7 years of age
• Less restrictive standards for agricultural work

Global Economy
The many factors that lead to child labor occur on a global scale. Although countries may
agree on the importance of labor standards, in practice, many obstacles to the
enforcement of child labor standards remain. These obstacles include global competition,
free trade rules, and the structural adjustment policies attached to international
development loans.

Global Competition

As multinational corporations expand across borders, countries often compete with each
other for jobs, investment, and industry. International competition sometimes slows child
labor reforms by encouraging corporations and governments to seek low labor costs by
resisting enforceable international standards and repressing trade union activism.

Many labor unions and other organizations are concerned that this global “race to the
bottom” increases poverty while lowering labor standards. Since the 1980’s, incomes of
the richest 20% of the population in nearly every nation have grown, while incomes of
the middle and lower classes have stagnated or declined. There are 300 million more
people in extreme poverty today than 10 years ago.

Central American sweatshop

These workers sew at a maquila, or sweatshop in Central America. Many Central

Americans have been trafficked into forced labor situations, including sweatshops, where
they toil under harsh conditions of indentured servitude.
Free Trade Rules

Most child labor occurs because children and families are poor and lack options for
education or income. Many factors affect poverty, but international agencies are
increasingly paying attention to trade policy as a key factor. The 2003 UN Human
Development Report, for example, identifies “unfair trade rules” as one of four key
obstacles to economic progress in poor countries.

Many poor countries rely heavily on exports of primary commodities, which have
suffered from declining prices as global competition has increased and markets have
tightly concentrated with a few firms dominating key sectors. For example: world coffee
prices hit 100-year lows in 2002-2003. These extremely low prices depressed economies
in parts of Central America and Africa that depend on coffee exports, and child labor in
some regions reportedly increased.

Debt and Structural Adjustment

Poor countries often face staggering interest payments on development loans from the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These loans often require the countries
to follow the policies of structural adjustment programs: deregulation, opening trade and
financial markets to global competition, weakening labor laws or enforcement,
privatizing government jobs, and cutting government spending on public health programs
and education.

Such structural adjustment policies can intensify the conditions, such as poverty and
inadequate education funding, that lead to child labor. For example, debt is one factor, in
addition to war and disease, that may lower school attendance in Sub-Saharan Africa
(where 48 million children under 14 work). While Sub-Saharan Africa pays $40 million
on debt each day, 40% of its children receive no education. In the 1990’s, the number of
children entering primary schools declined in 17 African countries.

International Trade Issues

U.S. citizens are linked to the international problem of child labor in part through our
trade relationships with other countries. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates:

• Around 5% of the world’s child laborers (15 million children) are involved in
producing manufactured or mined goods for export to the U.S.
• 80% of child laborers work in agriculture (including both domestic and export
sectors); worldwide, children make up around 7-12% of workforces on
plantations producing commodities for export.
A few examples of goods or commodities imported to the U.S. that have been linked to
child labor in recent years include:

Harvesting Bananas


Photo: David Parker

• Cut flowers from Colombia

• Coffee from Guatemala, Kenya, and other countries
• Vanilla from Madagascar
• Shrimp from Thailand
• Cashews from India
• Bananas from Ecuador

How does trade policy affect child labor?

Photo: David Parker

Today, when U.S. leaders argue for “free trade” they are arguing that fewer “trade
barriers” (tariffs, quotas, regulations, etc.) will lower the cost of moving goods from one
country to another, increasing incomes and wealth for all.
But others are arguing that the wealth created by trade is not being shared equally, that
trade rules aren’t always applied fairly—and that hasty removal of “trade barriers”
sometimes has negative effects on workers, economies, and environments (especially in
small or poor countries).

Where do labor standards fit into international trade?

Photo: David Parker

Terms of international trade are increasingly negotiated through international trade

institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO emerged out of
multinational negotiations held from 1986-1994, and has since continued to negotiate
rules covering trade in goods, services, agriculture, and intellectual property. As of 2003,
the WTO includes appointees from 146 countries who negotiate and enforce agreements
with the stated aim of helping “trade flow as freely as possible” and eliminating measures
that “restrict the free market.”

WTO rules currently do not include provisions on labor standards or child labor, and at
present there are no plans to consider labor standards in WTO negotiations. At its 1996
Ministerial meeting, WTO members passed a resolution stating that “the ILO should
remain the supranational agency charged with developing and monitoring core labor

Child Labor in U.S. Trade Policy

Some U.S. trade legislation has included labor standards and child labor (for example, as
criteria for preferential trade or for goods procured under federal contracts). However,
international free trade rules may begin to prohibit certain considerations of labor
standards in trade legislation. For example, when U.S. Senators proposed legislation
banning imports of goods made with child labor in the early 1990’s, Congressional
researchers acknowledged such a ban would likely violate current rules of the WTO,
because countries affected by a child labor import ban could challenge the ban as an
unfair trade barrier or impose fines on U.S. exports as a penalty for the violation.

Current U.S. trade policy (Trade Act of 2002) directs U.S. trade negotiators to:
• “promote respect for worker rights and the rights of children consistent with core
labor standards of the ILO”
• “seek provisions in trade agreements under which parties to those agreements
strive to ensure that they do not weaken or reduce the protections afforded in
domestic environmental and labor laws as an encouragement for trade”
• “promote universal ratification and full compliance with ILO Convention No. 182
Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the
Worst Forms of Labor”

International Workers’ Rights

Today, most nations around the world have child labor laws that set 14 or 15 as the
minimum age for work, and prohibit children under 18 from doing hazardous work. In
addition to national legislation regulating child labor, many international human rights
and labor standards focus on the issue of child labor.

Why are international workers’ rights important in today’s


• We live in a global economy that is characterized by an unprecedented rise in

global trade, global investment, global distribution of production, and global
(multinational) corporations.
• Globalization affects workers and labor standards. Labor unions are often
concerned that current trade rules encourage a “race to the bottom” in which
companies cut costs by seeking the lowest possible wages and labor standards.
• Workers in every sector are affected by globalization and international
competition. For example, trade in services is growing even faster than trade in
• The rewards of globalization have been unevenly distributed. United Nations
organizations have documented declining incomes, increasing income disparities,
increasing poverty, and rising unemployment in many nations.

International Labor Standards

International labor standards are embodied within a range of international organizations

and institutions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) is generally acknowledged
for its central role in creating and promoting international labor standards.

Since its creation in 1919, the ILO has adopted 184 Conventions that establish standards
for a range of workplace issues including (but not limited to):
Market Vendor

Mexico, 1992

Photo: David Parker

• Pensions
• Maternity
• Child Labor
• Weekly Rest
• Forced Labor
• Hours of Work
• Discrimination
• Social Security
• Minimum Wage
• Safety and Health
• Right to Organize
• Disability Insurance
• Collective Bargaining
• Education and Training
• Unemployment Benefits
• Rights of Rural Workers
• Vacations and Holidays
• Family Responsibilities
• Migrant Labor Protections
• Workers’ Compensation

Two of the most fundamental ILO Conventions regarding child labor are
Conventions 138 and 182:
ILO Convention 138
Sets minimum age of 15 for employment
ILO Convention 182
Prohibits the “worst forms” of child labor and requires countries to act toward
eliminating “worst forms”

Core Labor Standards

Photo: David Parker

In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted a “Declaration on

Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work” in response to growing concerns about the
effects of global competition on workers. The Declaration affirms that all ILO member
nations have an obligation to respect, promote, and realize the most fundamental
workers’ rights:

• Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

• Elimination of all Forms of Forced or Compulsory Labor
• Effective Abolition of Child Labor
• Elimination of Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation

Unfortunately, existing laws and international standards are often violated.

Many countries and states:

• lack effective laws to protect children

• include exemptions that make laws unenforceable or only cover children in
certain industries
• rarely enforce existing laws on child labor, or are under pressure from employers
or local governments not to enforce laws
• lack funds or trained personnel to enforce laws
Ending Child Labor
Unions and grassroots groups are increasingly recognizing direct connections between
worker rights and the fight against child labor. Recognizing child labor as a violation of
children's and workers' rights, trade unions are joining with families and community
organizations to combat child labor, to move children out of work and into school, and to
support core labor standards. Historically and in today’s global economy:

• strong unions are an important protection against child labor

• when parents are able to improve conditions through effective unions, children are
much less likely to have to work
• active struggles against child labor tend to strengthen unions and workers’ rights
in general

Many workers and unions in the U.S. and other countries are supporting efforts to end
child labor by forging alliances with unions in other countries. These alliances work to
achieve enforceable global labor standards, such as ILO Convention 182, and hold
transnational companies accountable for labor practices.

History’s Strategies Still Apply:

• Union and Community Organizing

• Free Education for All Children
• Campaigns to Change Public Opinion
• Universal Minimum Standards

Examples of Effective Child Labor Solidarity

Global March against Child Labor

Supporting workers’ struggles to organize unions and reject child labor

In 2001 factory monitors confirmed illegal union-busting and other violations—including

employment of 13-15 year-old children—at a Mexican factory sewing clothing with
university logos for Nike and other U.S. companies. Thousands of American students,
workers, and consumers wrote letters to corporate CEOs protesting worker treatment.
The international solidarity campaign helped factory workers overcome violence,
intimidation, and mass firings when they tried to organize, and after months of struggle,
workers won an independent union.

In 2002, as news of child labor abuses and attacks on workers in Ecuador’s banana
plantations spread around the world, workers, consumers, and students contacted Los
Alamos plantation owner Alvaro Noboa to demand that he recognize the workers’ union
and cease using illegal child labor. Presidents of the AFL-CIO, the International Union of
Food and Allied Workers (IUF), the Teamsters, and many other labor leaders also issued
letters in support of Los Alamos workers’ struggle.

Campaigning for institutions to adopt and enforce codes of conduct

When the 2000 Olympics were held in Sydney, Australia, Australian labor federations
created and signed an agreement with the Olympic organizing committee requiring all
sponsors and licensees to adhere to minimum labor standards, including international
conventions on child labor.

Pressure from human rights groups, consumers, and international trade unions led the
group overseeing the World Cup (FIFA—Federation Internationale de Football
Association) to adopt a Code in 1998 stating it would cease using soccer balls made with
child labor. This year, when reports indicated that children were still working in the
soccer ball industry and that adult workers were not being paid a living wage, activists
launched a new publicity and letter-writing campaign, mobilizing soccer fans, consumers,
and politicians to demand FIFA improve factory monitoring and live up to the promises
in its Code.

Implementing and supporting fair trade or labeling initiatives

Through programs developed by non-profit organizations, export goods like coffee or
cocoa can now be certified as “Fair Trade” products if producers adhere to basic labor
standards—including ILO conventions on child labor—and pay farmers fair prices so
families can meet basic living needs without having children work for wages. Groups like
TransFair USA and others help to publicize Fair Trade initiatives and educate consumers
about Fair Trade products.

When the use of child labor in the rug-making industries of Pakistan and India gained
international publicity in the 1990s, consumer groups—building on the history of
effective “union label” initiatives—worked with manufacturers to begin phasing out the
use of child labor and licensing companies to use “no child labor” labels if production
facilities were regularly inspected by independent monitors. The resulting “RUGMARK”
label program uses licensing fees to fund monitoring programs and education and
rehabilitation for children removed from carpet jobs. Consumer groups and unions play a
role in educating the public about the label program and ensuring it maintains strict
standards for licensed companies.

Using collective bargaining strategies

The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions
(ICEM) signed in 2000 and recently renewed a “global agreement” with the multinational
Freudenberg corporation, which owns chemical and rubber manufacturing plants all over
the world. Freudenberg is headquartered in Germany/Japan, but the agreement covers all
Freudenberg workers in the U.S. and 40 other countries. Among other recognitions of
workers’ rights, the agreement commits Freudenberg to a ban on “child labour according
to the definitions included in ILO Convention 138.”

Promoting global labor standards in trade agreements

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions continues to propose adding a

“social clause” covering seven core labor standards, including prohibitions on child labor,
to WTO rules governing international trade; this proposal has so far been rejected by
WTO leaders.

Garment Workers at a Union Solidarity Center Meeting


Trade agreements between the U.S. and Cambodia have successfully included incentives
for garment manufacturers to improve factory working conditions. Agreements require
factory owners to respect core labor standards, including eliminating child labor and
respecting workers’ rights to organize unions and collectively bargain.

Filing suit against corporations for labor rights abuses abroad

The International Labor Rights Fund and other groups have begun pursuing legal action
against companies for alleged labor abuses in other countries. In 1996, for example, ILRF
filed a suit against Unocal for using slave labor to build pipelines in Burma; and with the
support of U.S. labor unions, ILRF recently filed a suit against Coca-Cola for using
paramilitary forces to suppress organizing and assassinate union leaders in Colombia
(these suits are still pending). If effective, this strategy could be used in the future to hold
transnational corporations accountable for child labor abuses.

Promoting access to education

Increasing children’s access to public education is a fundamental strategy for ending

child labor. An example of promoting access to education is the Bangladesh Building and
Woodworkers’ Federation and the Metal Workers’ Union that seeks to remove children
from hazardous workplaces and enroll children in education and assistance programs. On
a larger scale, the Global Campaign for Education is a coalition involving teachers’
unions, Global March Against Child Labor, Oxfam, and Action Aid.

Educational materials containing more information on Ending Child Labor are available
through this web site:

• Workshop Materials—Core Workshop on Child Labor

• Workshop Materials—Health and Child Labor
• Workshop Materials—International Trade and Child Labor
• Workshop Materials—International Workers’ Rights and Child Labor
• K-12 Teachers’ Materials

Workshop Materials
Child labor is a large problem, but educated workers and citizens are effectively
challenging it, including by increasing public awareness of related issues. The Child
Labor Public Education Project has developed workshops on child labor issues.
Workshops provide information, discussion, and resources on various topics. Related
educational materials include instructors’ manuals, Power Point overheads, activities, and
handouts. These materials are available on this website. You may adapt these materials to
meet your group’s needs.

The following workshops/materials have been prepared for adult education purposes.

Core Adult Education Workshop on Child Labor

Health and Child Labor

• Types of child labor

• Effects on children’s injuries, development, and fatalities
• Agricultural child labor
• Efforts to end hazardous child labor

International Trade and Child Labor

• Types and causes of child labor

• Child labor laws and standards
• Child labor and international trade policies
• International trade rules and labor standards
• Child labor and workers’ rights in U.S. trade policy
• Challenging child labor through trade interventions

International Workers’ Rights and Child Labor

• Types and incidence of child labor

• How workers’ rights abuses in other countries affect U.S. workers
• Labor standards and the International Labor Organization
• How workers can promote international labor standards
Child labor workshops can be presented to numerous types of groups:

 Local trade unions

 Central labor councils
 Regional/district conventions
 Students, teachers, and parent-teacher organizations
 Church groups or faith-labor committees
 Community organizations
 Human rights groups
 Adult education forums or discussion groups

This extensive website covers a wide range of topics regarding the global
economy: trade agreements, effects of the global economy on particular groups
including children, labor laws, AFL-CIO resolutions. Provides links to many
AFT - Child Labor Project
American Federation of Teachers. Child labor curriculum designed for school
children. Also Internet resources, posters, and video.
Alliance for Responsible Trade
National network of labor, farm, religious, women's, environmental, development
and research organizations that promotes equitable and sustainable trade and
development. Website describes trade proposals and agreements.
Child Labor Coalition
National network for the exchange of child labor information. Seeks to influence
policies and enforcement of policies. Website includes news, case studies, and
some statistics.
Child Labor Research Initiative,
University of Iowa Center for Human Rights
Legislative Database provides on-line access to national laws regarding child
labor from throughout the world. Modules for teaching child labor are available
for pre-college and college-level courses.
Free the Children
International youth organization—helps build schools and provides information
about child labor. Website contains a 5-page Q & A regarding child labor.
Global March Against Child Labor
Read recent news about child labor around the world. Link to detailed reports,
photos, case studies, and information about current campaigns.
Global Policy Network
Website offers information, statistics, and analysis regarding socioeconomic
developments that influence living standards and working conditions around the
Global Trade Watch
Promotes government and corporate accountability in the globalization and trade
area. Website offers news, action alerts, and reports on trade proposals and
Human Rights Watch
NGOs in US. Children’s Rights Division focuses on examples of global child
labor. Website includes publications, news, and directory of international legal
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Program areas include the links among agriculture, trade, environment, food, and
health. Website provides news/analysis of international trade proposals and
International Child Labor Program
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs. Website
contains copies of OL Dreports on child labor, statistics, and background on ILO
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
Global coalition of trade unions that launched a 2-year global campaign to stop
child labor. Website includes campaigns, reports, book, and video “Combating the
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour
U.N./International Labor Organization
Website contains reports, statistics, and information about international
conventions and programs to combat child labor. It also contains suggestions for
action, as well as news and events information.
Labors of Love Project
Stanford University Child Labor Project. Website includes stories, reports, titles
of books, videos, child labor curriculum, and links to other Internet sites.
National Labor Committee
Focuses on sweatshop conditions relating to U.S. corporations. Videos, reports,
and literature can be purchased from the website.
Addresses global poverty thru development programs, humanitarian responses,
and policy advocacy. Addresses trade issues through Make Trade Fair campaign.
TransFair USA
Read about Fair Trade products available in the U.S., how to purchase Fair Trade
coffee, and campaigns to expand the availability of other fair trade products.
Provides information to locate retailers.
Understanding Children’s Work
Cooperation project on child labor information between UNICEF, the ILO, and
the World Bank Group. Websites contains bibliographies, statistics, and reports
on child labor.
U.S. Department of Labor
Find detailed reports covering many aspects of the child labor problem, proposed
solutions, news, and updates.
World Bank Group—The Global Child Labor Program
The Global Child Labor Program website includes copies of reports and
publications, including on child labor in general and child labor and health.

International Campaigns

Campaign to end labor rights’ abuses on banana plantations

Human Rights Watch

Page contains information and links to a report, Tainted Harvest: Child Labor and
Obstacles to Organizing on Ecuador’s Banana Plantations.

Corporate responsibility campaigns

National Labor Committee

Page gives details about current campaigns focused on U.S. corporations cited for
sweatshop and child labor abuses.

Global March Against Child Labor campaigns

Global March
Read recent news about child labor around the world. Link to detailed reports,
photos, case studies, and information about current campaigns.

Global unions campaign

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

Select “Child Labour” on the left column. Gives news and activities regarding the
global union movement’s campaign to combat child labor.

Campaigns to end child labor

Child Labor Coalition

Describes campaigns targeted at various industries.
Campaign to end child labor in soccer ball manufacturing
Page contains links to informational fliers and current campaign materials urging
improved monitoring of child labor and soccer ball labeling programs.
Campaign to end child slavery in the cocoa/chocolate industry
Page contains facts about child slavery and current campaigns to change
conditions on West African plantations.

International solidarity campaigns

Campaign for Labor Rights

Page posts action alerts and instructions for sending solidarity letters in support of
struggles for workers’ rights and child labor reforms in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Sign up to receive e-mail alerts.

Campaigns to reform U.S. agricultural child labor law

Human Rights Watch

Page contains information on contacting Congress about proposals to reform child
labor law in agriculture.
The “Children in the Fields” campaign

AFL-CIO website on agricultural child labor

Includes a Teacher’s Guide and activities/resources for children.

The Child Labor Public Education Project of the University of Iowa Labor Center and
Center for Human Rights provides educational workshops and materials on a range of
issues regarding child labor in the U.S. and other countries:

• causes and consequences of child labor

• history of child labor in the U.S.
• effects of child labor on children’s health and workers’ rights
• and international issues such as workers’ rights, trade, and economic policies.

Workshops and related handouts discuss these issues and efforts to end child labor
through: advocacy by unions, churches, and community organizations; reform of laws
and regulations; and consumer actions.
The Child Labor Public Education Project has related educational materials that you may
adapt to meet your group’s needs. Training manuals for adult education and K-12
teachers are available, along with overheads and educational handouts


No child below the age fourteen years shall be employed in work in any
factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.



(e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the
tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not
forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their
age or strength.
(f) that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a
healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that
childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against
moral and material abandonment.



The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from
the commencement of this constitution, for free and compulsory
education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

With a view to fulfilling the constitutional mandate, a major programme

was launced on 15th August, 1994 for withdrawing children working in
hazardous occupations and rehabilitating them through Special Schools. As a
follow up, a series of steps have been taken by the Government. A high
powered body, the National Authority for the Elimination of Child Labour
(NAECL) was constituted on 26th September, 1994 under the Chairmanship of
Labour Minister with a view to formulating policies and programmes for
elimination of child labour, monitor the progress of implementation of
programmes, projects and schemes for elimination of child labour and to
coordinate the implementation of child labour related projects of the various
sister Ministries of the Government of India (to ensure convergence of services
for the benefit of the families of child labour). To give effect to this
announcement, 64 area based projects were sanctioned, (in addition to 12
continuing projects) under the existing scheme of NCLP and Sambalpur district
is one among them.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 seeks to

prohibit employment of children below the age of 14 years in 7 occupations
and 18 processes listed in the Schedule to the Act and regulate the working
conditions of children in other employments. Through a Notification dated
26.05.1993, the working conditions of children have been regulated in all
employments which are not prohibited under the Child Labour (Prohibition and
Regulation) Act, 1986.
The important directives of the Apex Court in this matter are:-

 Survey for identification of working children;

 Withdrawal of children working in hazardous industries and ensuring
their education in appropriate institutions;
 Contribution @20,000/- per child to be paid by the offending employees
of children to a welfare fund to be established for this purpose;
 Employment to one adult member of the family of the child so withdrawn
from work and if that is not possible, a contribution of Rs.5,000/- to the
welfare fund to be made by the State Government;
 Financial assistance to the families of the children so withdrawn to be
paid out of the interest earnings on the corpus of Rs.20,000/25,000
deposited in the welfare fund as long as the child is actually sent to
 Regulating hours of work for children working in non-hazardous
occupations so that their working hours do not exceed six hours per day
and education for atleast two hours is ensured. The entire expenditure on
education is to be borne by the concerned employer.


The National Child Labour Policy was approved by the Cabinet (Central
Ministry) on the 14th August 1987 during the Seventh Plan period. Under the
policy, a project based Plan of Action was envisaged. Accordingly, nine
projects were started in areas of child labour concentration.
The National Child Labour Policy was formulated with the basic
objective of suitably rehabilitating the children withdrawn from employment
and to reduce the incidence of child labour in areas where there is a known
concentration of child labour. The policy consists of three main ingredients:
(a) Lagal Action Plan – Emphasis will be laid on strict and effective
enforcement of legal provisions relating to child labour under
various labour laws.
(b) Focusing of general development programmes – Utilisation of
various on-going development programmes of other
Ministries/Departments for the benefit of child labour wherever
(c) Project based plan of Action-Launching of projects for the welfare
of working children in areas of high concentration of child labour.
A project level society is required to be constituted for each project to
supervise the programme with the District Magistrate/Collector of the
concerned district as its Chairman and other members comprising
representatives of Departments concerned with programmes of non-formal
education, vocational training, health etc. and suitable voluntary organization as
required. The execution of the project is entrusted to a Project Director who is
assisted by field officers or social workers and other support staff. The society
is a registered body and has a distinct legal status. The other staff including
teachers are engaged either by the voluntary agency or by the Project Society.
On the basis of the findings in the preliminary survey, the detailed
project proposals may be drawn up and forwarded by the State Government
indicating clearly the programme activities and time targets as relatable to the
main objective of elimination/reduction of child labour in the area. Linking up
and integration with the existing development programmes would require to be
specifically mentioned. Each Child Labour Project Society is proposed to be
funded specifically for raising of public awareness as indicated in Annex.IV.
The staff requirement and financial implications of all the programme activities
would need to be clearly spelt out. The agencies proposed to be involved in the
implementation of programmes alongwith their specific responsibilities will
have to be identified.
In view of the fact that the very incidence of child labour in prohibited
employments implies certain laxity and substancial ineffectiveness of the
legislative provisions for the protection of child labour in various laws,
stepping up of their enforcement would be an essential component of the
project activities. Special responsibility is envisaged to be cast on the labour
enfocement staff available in the project area. In case additional complement of
enforcement staff is required to be included in the project, it would be possible
to sanction it, for a limited period and with specifically laid down targets.
The entire project is required to be implemented through a registered
society. The project society is required to be constituted under the
Chairmanship of the administrative head of the area who may be either the
Collector of the district or, in case the project is spread over more than one
district, the Divisional Commissioner or other appropriate authority. Members
of the society may be drawn from concerned Government departments and
representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions and NGOs etc.
In terms of operationalisation of the projects, the main objective of the
National Child Labour Project is to withdraw children working in hazardous
occupations and rehabilitate them through their education in the special
schools, where they are provided non formal education, vocational training,
stipend, nutrition, etc. The children in the special schools are taught through a
non-formal mode with a condensed syllabus for a maximum period of 3 years.
After 3 years of special school education, the children are expected to reach a
level of 5th standard. The children are also imparted age appropriate craft and
pre-vocational training. After completion of the special school education
children are expected to join formal stream of education in 6 th standard. Some
children are also capable of being mainstreamed before the completion of 3
years of special school education. Since this is cost effective, this process of
mainstreaming should be encouraged. Children of special schools who cannot
be mainstreamed to formal stream of education should be encouraged to take
up vocation of their choice after completion of their special school education.
The target group comprises of children working in hazardous occupations who
have not completed 14 years of age.
The child labour project has a specific time frame and it will not
continue indefinitely. The teaching volunteers for the special schools and other
staff of the project society is engaged with the clear understanding/agreement
that they will be paid a consolidated honorarium for their services which are
more or less voluntary in nature. No regular scale of pay should be prescribed
for any of the project staff.
Stipend is not paid in cash to the students or the parents. Instead, an
account has been opened in the post office/commercial or cooperative bank in
the name of the student and his guardian. The stipend is deposited in the
account every month. The District Collector and Project Director ensure speedy
opening of accounts in the village post office.
Poverty being the most important contributing factor of child labour, it is
necessary to effect convergence of the various development programmes under
implementation at the district level for the benefit of the working children and
their parents. The basic idea underlying convergence is pooling of resources
from a variety of sources and integrating them imaginatively and skillfully to
achieve the desired results. Convergence becomes more meaningful in a
situation of scarcity of resources, large magnitude of the problem and limited
time frame. It is well known that while Ministry of Labour is concerned with
the problem of working children, but there are departments like, Women and
Child Development, Education, Rural areas and Employment, Urban Poverty
Alleviation, Health and Family Welfare, Welfare, etc. which have separate
programmes for promoting well being of children. The magnitude of the
problem of child labour being large, there is scope for pooling resources from
other sources like the Ministries/Departments indicated above and dovetailing
them with the resources available with Ministry Of Labour to produce optimal

Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India has already issued

circulars for coverage of the parents of children under the existing poverty
alleviation and employment generation schemes. The Project Directors should
continuously monitor the coverage of the parents of the children under various
poverty alleviation and employment generation schemes. This issue should be
regularly discussed in the meeting for review of the progress in the
implementation of the project.
Child labour is a subject on which both the Central Government and
State Governments have joint responsibility. Child Labour Elimination
Programme is, therefore, a national programme which must be supported both
by Central and the State Governments by enlisting the involvement of different
Ministries/Departments at the Central and the State Government level as also
Non-Governmental Organisations. For facilitating the overall monitoring,
supervision and coordination, Ministry of Labour at the Government of India
and the Departments of Labour (or any other designated department) at the
level of State Government will be the nodal agencies.
Timely and effective operationalisation of the Child Labour Projects is
the ultimate test of success of the project. Timeless in responding to various
needs of the project, strict adherence to the time schedule and calendar of
activities in respect of survey, awareness generation and commissioning of
special schools, rigorous monitoring of the pace and progress of
implementation of various components and sub components of the project,
instant application of correctives to remove deficiencies and infirmities and
evaluation (both content, process and summative) of the outcome of the project
and application of the findings of the evaluation as a tool of correction for
qualitative change can help in achieving the desired objective of the project.
NGOs are not contractors of Government; they are not competitors of
Government nor are they substitutes of Government action. We solicit the
involvement, cooperation and support of NGOs as Government does not have
the outreach to every place and as Government cannot assume everything on its
shoulders in terms of social action. In regard to involvement of NGOs in any
particular area of work, it would depend on their attitude, approach,
professional experience and expertise etc. We, therefore, need specific NGOs
for specific area(s) of social action depending on their traits, attributes and
characteristics. In other words, a highly selective approach is what is needed
and not an approach which will open flood gates of social action to NGOs
regardless of their sincere desire, interest and willingness to work for
elimination of child labour.