In Santa Cruz, through a joint UNICEF and Ministry of Labour initiative, Sugar industry entrepreneurs speak out against child labour
La Paz, Bolivia, 17th november 2005 - Sugar cane industry entrepreneurs met today in Santa Cruz at the behest of UNICEF and the Ministry of Labour, and, within the framework of the National Strategy for the Progressive Eradication on Child Labour, issued a Declaration in favour of stepping up efforts against child labour in sugar cane harvest areas.
The Declaration formalises the commitment of sugar cane businesses and workers to the education, health, recreation, and the physical and mental development of children and adolescents. The document also highlights that any efforts made to eliminate the worst form of child labour must take into account its underlying social, economic and cultural causes. It also states that it is vital to promote a culture of work within Bolivian society as a means of generating income and development for each of our country's inhabitants.
At the signing of the Declaration, Dimitri Papathanassiou, UNICEF Programme Officer, celebrated the 16th anniversary of the Convention on Children's Rights: officially set for the 20th of November. "This moment is a special opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that children can exercise their rights in Bolivia and throughhout the world. Today, with the signing of this Declaration in favour of children in the sugar cane harvest, we are commemorating this highly important Convention, and we are pleased to see the Santa Cruz private sector renewing its commitment to children and their rights", he said.
Signing the Declaration were the Cámera Agropecuaria del Oriente - CAO, UNAGRO S.A., Asocaña, Ingenio Azucarero CuatroA's, the Unión de Cañeros Cooperativistas "Minero" de la Provincia Santiestevan, Ingenio Santa Cecilia, Asociación de Pequeños Productores de la Caña de Azúcar y la Asociación Agropecuaria "21 de abril", Ingenio Roberto Barberí paz, Ingenio Azucarero Guabirá S.A., Asociación de Pequeños Productores de Caña Campesinos CTC - Montero, Federación de Cañeros Santa Cruz - ASILIA, Asociación de Cañeros Oriente, Asociación de Cañeros Independiente, Asociación de Cañeros San Jorge, Agroince Sociedad Civil, Asociación Cruceña de Cañeros, Asociación de Cañeros de Warnes, Unión Agropecuaria Santa Cruz, Agropecuaria Guapay, Asociación de Pequeños Productores Agropecuarios Paurito Dos and the Federación de Comunidades Campesinas, in addition to 60 individual sugar cane workers from the different institutions, such as the Cooperativa 10 de Noviembre, Cooperativa Avaroa, Cooperativa Guadalquivir, Cooperativa El Carmen, Cooperativa Cuatro Ojitos, Cooperativa Azurduy, Cooperativa Alonzo Fernández, and Cooperativa Norte Cruceño.
The document proposes the design and implementation of an action plan covering education, training, health and recreation to be set in motion from 2006. The plan will include commitments to:
- Refusing to hire people under the minimum working age.
- Guaranteeing dignified working conditions and guaranteeing that workers 14 years of age and older remain in school.
- Ensuring that those with whom one does business, such as providers, customers, distributors, agents and subcontractors do not have any links with employing underage workers.
- Inviting sugar cane harvest companies that have not yet signed the Declaration to join forces in preventing and eradicating child labour in Bolivia.
All of these actions are supported by Bolivian legislation, the Convention on Children's Right and the agreements signed by the Republic of Bolivia with the International Labour Organisation regarding the minimum age for entering the work force and against the worst forms of child labour.
There are approximately 800.000 child and adolescent workers in Bolivia, of which an estimated 10.000 are involved in the harvest of sugar cane.