In previous works, we have already discussed child labor as one of the most significant problems the modern society faces. In fact, ruthless exploitation of individuals who are responsible for our future might seem unwise because of its pernicious impact on the health of the nation, its culture, intelligence, and wealth. However, the issue still remains topical despite numerous attempts to eliminate this practice and protect children.
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It means that the complexity of the question and its integration in mentalities of particular persons decrease the positive impact of various measures. Instead, they might introduce new problems and obstacles which should be handled. For instance, any attempts to solve the problem by provisioning children workers with the legal status stipulate vigorous debates about the appropriate working age and the effect its lowering might have on the overall situation. In this regard, this paper delves into the peculiarities of unions functioning in areas where child labor is rife and their attempts to improve the situation.
In general, organizations that try to protect rights of a particular population group become a potent tool of the modern age. There are numerous examples how civil right or feminist movements managed to alter the attitude to minorities or women and provided them with an opportunity to participate in the social discourse and enjoy tolerant attitude. However, organizations which aim at the elimination of child labor and provisioning children with social protection cannot admit radical alterations in the sphere. Regions traditionally characterized by the ruthless exploitation of children still preserve this practice.
Moreover, they tend to ignore all efforts and consider adolescents cheap workforce which could be used to gain stable income and decrease spending. For instance, in Bolivia, the population of which is 11 million people, about 850,000 children work full-time, and half of them are under 14 (Enzinna, 2013). It means that about 8% of citizens of the state work in harsh conditions and are deprived of social protection.
Miners in Bolivia and Minimal Working Age
Today, there are several approaches to solve the above-mentioned problem. For instance, one of the readings suggested for the investigation revolve around the idea of decreasing working age from 14 to 6 years (Enzinna, 2013). Despite the apparent discrepancy of the suggested measure, several factors should be considered regarding this proposal. First of all, the situation in the sphere of child labor is disastrous in Bolivia.
Miners correctly realize that their work is the inferno as over the past 500 years at least 4 million died from cave-ins, starvation, or black lung only in Cerro Rico (Enzinna, 2013). Nowadays, about 3000 children work there, and half of them do it illegally (Enzinna, 2013). In this regard, they might be considered potential victims as the state of their health deteriorates significantly. The fact is that many children are under 14 which means that they could not be employed on the legal basis.
Instead, they work without any guarantees and are paid even less than other workers. The second fact is that the current situation in Bolivia is similar to those in the USA at the end of industrial evolution as 2million children worked in mines (Enzinna, 2013). However, the introduction of a minimum working age of 15 and other measures to protect children helped to alter the situation. Under these conditions, the lowering of the working age could improve the situation as children who have to work in mines will acquire at least some social protection. From this perspective, the given measure does not seem so contradictory.
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Children do work in mines at the moment, and the improvement of their working conditions due to their legal status could be considered the first step towards the complete elimination of the problem. There is also another perspective on the issue. The fact is that turning into employees children will have to miss classes trying to earn at least some money and improve their financial state. However, being deprived of the ability to acquire a good education and a well-paid job, they will earn less. In such a way, a paradox appears. The measure which is introduced to improve the state of children will promote their gradual impoverishment.
Unions to Protect Workers
The second reading revolves around a similar idea. Rodrigo Medrano Calle, a labor leader, is also sure that actions to protect children in this area are needed as about 750,000 of them perform complicated tasks and are not able to enjoy their childhood (Shahriari, 2012). For this reason, the Bolivian Union of Child and Adolescent Workers emphasizes the necessity of education as one of the ways to help children master additional skills and find well-paid jobs.
However, the problem remains complex because of the lack of time and low wages peculiar to the country. Under these conditions, the same idea we discussed in previous papers becomes topical. The complete elimination of child labor and provision of social protection to children becomes possible only regarding the significant improvement of living conditions and a decrease of the level of poverty in countries which have this problem.
In Bolivia, children earn £4-5 for a nights work, and it remains the only source of income that is used by families to survive (Shahriari, 2012). Moreover, poor working conditions and officials desire to acquire extra income result in numerous attempts to use child labor as a tool to lower wages and make people work in even more difficult conditions. As we have already stated, many children work in mines illegally.
In such a way, employers could speculate on it trying to make other employees work harder. Otherwise, they will hire children and make them work. The given situation should be inadmissible in the modern world as children are one of its main values. That is why the creation of the environment that helps to protect children and helps them to acquire knowledge is one of the fundamental tasks of organizations that try to protect human rights and eliminate children labor globally. It could be achieved if only all child workers will understand the main patterns which are used to exploit them and unite to resist unfair practices. Only under these conditions, employers will face a significant challenge and reconsider their approaches to the organization of work.
Altogether, the readings touch upon another vital idea related to the issue of child labor. They demonstrate that many organizations are concerned about the problematic situation and try to suggest different solutions. However, the majority of them turn out to be inefficient because of the complexity of the question and numerous factors peculiar to different regions. For this reason, the only way to attain at least some improvement is to unite and demand the creation of the specific environment and introduction of more advantageous working conditions.
Enzinna, W. (2013). Child workers of the world, unite! Vice. Web.
Shahriari, S. (2012). Bolivia’s child workers unite to end exploitation. The Guardian. Web.