NZ Minister responds to Caritas child labour survey shock
NZ Labour Minister Margaret Wilson says moves are underway to ensure children and young people are aware of their rights and legal protections at work following a Caritas survey that revealed child exploitation in the country.
"The recent survey of child employment by the Catholic charity Caritas has highlighted the ongoing need for vigilance," she said. "This country has a tradition of children working part-time, but our record for ensuring they are aware of their rights and the protections given to them under the law could be better."
The survey revealed children under 16 working in alcohol outlets, unsupervised babysitting by children under the age of 14, use of heavy machinery by children under the age of 15, and more.
The Caritas survey does not provide enough information for the Department of Labour to further investigate apparent breaches of child labour laws. The survey was anonymous and Caritas says the privacy of the children surveyed prevents it from identifying those who took part.
Ms Wilson said a review of children's employment began in October, with a report due out next month. A two-year project assessing the implications of ratifying International Labour Organisation Convention 138 is also underway.
In the short-term, the Department of Labour has just posted easy-to-follow guidelines on its website for children and their employers.
She Wilson said it is relatively common for children over the age of 11 to earn pocket money, to contribute to the family income and help with the family business or farm.
"Mostly it is good experience for them. We also know there are, at least, isolated cases of unlawful exploitation. Rarity makes it no less distressing."
Minister of Labour responds to Caritas survey (Caritas NZ 29/1/04)
Caritas workplace survey reveals child exploitation in N.Z. (Welcom 8/2/04)
Child labour shock in NZ (One News)
Department of Labour | Child Labour
20 Feb 2004