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September 17, 2014
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Gov’t: child labour down 56% over the last 8 years

Capitanich, Tomada stress 56-percent decline from 2004

Child labour has declined 56 percent in the last eight years, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said yesterday, the World Day against Child Labour.

Argentina has lowered child labour from 7.8 to 3.4 percent between 2004 and 2012 — taking into account the percent of children below 16 years of age classified as economically active — the Kirchnerite official said.

Hours later, Labour Minister Carlos Tomada presented the report, which revealed that some 450,000 children are still working in the country — mainly in small retail outlets, auto repair shops and construction sites.

Of those 450,000, some 366,245 are between the ages of five and 14. International organizations say they all need to be off the streets, farms, and factories to dedicate themselves to full-time schooling.

“Child labour is the most perverse form of unregistered work and affects the rights of all children, that’s why it’s considered a crime in this country, punishable with up to four years in prison,” Tomada said.Capitanich stressed the 2008 approval of Law 26,390, which establishes the minimum working age in the country as 16 and offers parameters to the working hours of those between 16 and 18 years of age, as one of the main efforts by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s administration to eradicate child labour.

Another piece of legislation passed that same year — Law 26,364 — prohibited forced labour, while in 2011, the National Commission for the Eradication of Child Labour (CONAETI) raised the working age in Argentina from 14 to 16.

Last year, the head of CONAETI, María del Pilar Rey Méndez, said it would be “very difficult” to eradicate all forms of the worst child labour by 2016 — a deadline set by the International Labour Organization (ILO) — but she insisted that “Argentina will take great strides” over the next few months.

The Universal Child Allowance (AUH) and the Argentina Trabaja labour insertion plan are positively affecting current efforts to eradicate the employment of children, Buenos Aires University (UBA) professor Mariana Melgarejo told state-run news agency Télam.

Data bias

The CONAETI, which forms part of the Labour Ministry, had announced last year that child labour was down 66 percent from the beginning of the Kirchnerite era.

However, the comparison made by government officials was carried out using two different methodologies, as data for 2004 came from the Survey of Activities of Children and Adolescents (EANNA) conducted by Unicef Argentina while the data for 2012 was obtained from the Annual Survey of Urban Households (EAHU), which uses figures from the government’s INDEC statistics bureau.Yesterday, the government released the report indicating figures for the third quarter of 2012 using the statistical methodology of the 2004 report. This comparison results in the — now correct ed— 56.4 percent mentioned by the Cabinet chief.

According to ILO, 168 million children worldwide are in child labour — 14 million of them in Latin America.The mean incidence of child labour in all labour forces in the region is nine percent.

Herald staff

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