DOLE affirms report on child labor in Bukidnon
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Northern Mindanao supported a report that child labor prevails in sugarcane plantations in Bukidnon.
The report was released by Xavier University, which said minors are being hired as workers in sugarcane plantations in the province. The university conducted a survey of the labor situation in those areas.
Under the law, minors are prohibited from employment in industries where their safety couldn’t be guaranteed, including agricultural plantations.
If minors are to be employed, according to labor officials, they should be given jobs “that would not endanger their lives” and they should be under the supervision of parents, guardians. Firms hiring minors should first seek permission from the labor department.
Johnson Canete, the labor director for Northern Mindanao, said Quezon town in Bukidnon is among the areas where minors are being employed in sugarcane plantations. Most of the children working in the plantations come from poor families, Canete said.
“Some employers are exploiting the situation as the sugar industry in Bukidnon showed,” Canete said.
The labor department, he said, has stepped up its antichild labor campaign, particularly in Bukidnon, as a result of the finding.
He said labor department representatives have been inspecting establishments to check for compliance with labor laws, including that which bans the hiring of minors.
Some workers interviewed by Inquirer said children are being hired because they won’t complain even if the pay is low.
Firms that employ children hide the minors during inspections, said the workers, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from their employers.
Only adult workers are presented to officials during the inspections, the workers said.
Canete said the labor department needs the help of the workers themselves to put a stop to the hiring of child workers.
Until workers step forward to substantiate complaints against child labor, all the labor department could do is accept the pledge of businessmen not to hire children on its face value, according to Canete.
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