Child labor issue in Cambodia
Labor legislation in Cambodia is so weak and so often ignored that half of Cambodia’s children between the ages of seven and 14 participate in the workforce, the world’s largest federation of unions has told the World Trade Organisation General Council in Geneva.
Children, women and ethnic and indigenous minorities suffer the most under the Kingdom’s “corrupt” enforcement of labor law, according to the International Trade Union Confederation, which has 150 million members.
Yesterday it presented its report detailing how Cambodia falls short of international labor standards, along with a list of recommendations to the WTO, which is conducting a trade policy review of Cambodia concluding tomorrow.
“Poor compliance with international labor standards, especially with regard to trade-union rights, child labor and forced labor” form the key criticisms of the Kingdom’s employment environment.
“About 52 percent of children aged between seven and 14, a figure that stands for over 1.4 million children in absolute terms, performed work in economic activities,” the report says.
Seven out of every 10 child workers between the ages of five and 17 work in the agricultural sector. “Children work with dangerous pesticides and chemicals in agriculture and often with dangerous machinery in industrial production,” the ITUC's report says.
“The scope of the Labor Law does not cover all working children, and the law is not adequately enforced in practice,” it says.
ITUC director of social policy James Howard told the Post neglect of child labor issues was not only abuse of children but would hurt the economy.
“In the end, there will be uneducated youths who will not be able to make a serious contribution to the [economy],” he said from Geneva.
Cambodia’s Labor Law was drafted in 1997. There have been murmurs of an updated law being drafted, but this lengthy process has yet to come to fruition.