CSR needed to stop child labor in banana plantations

Nov. 21, 2009

DAVAO CITY Corporate social responsibility (CSR) among banana companies is needed to stop the practice of child labor in banana plantations.

This was reiterated by Professor Alex Apit of the Kamalayan Development Foundation, who said that during a workshop on CSR in Davao last year, several banana companies admitted the presence of child laborers in banana plantations.

Apit said that many of these children are working in plantations, particularly of banana growers contracted by big banana companies to grow and harvest their supply of bananas. He said that the practice usually entails the growers employing their children or kids of their neighbors to work in the plantations.

According to Apit, dire poverty is driving kids to work in the plantations and farms, even as he cited that toiling in banana plantations is not part of the legally allowed child work.

According to Republic Act 9231, child work is when a child works under the direct supervision of his parent of guardian and where only members of his/her family are employed provided that such employment does not endanger his/her life, safety, health and morals or hampers his/her development provided that the parent or guardian shall provide the child with the prescribed primary and secondary education.

Apit said that the hazardous nature of banana plantation work, where there is constant exposure to toxic chemicals disputes the reasoning that working in banana plantations is just mere child’s work but it is already a form of child labor.

He said that banana companies should exercise CSR to eradicate child labor in the banana plantations, he said during the workshop, the banana companies came up with a code of conduct between owners and growers which disallows children to work in banana plantations.

In 1973, the International Labor Organization set the minimum age requirement for workers in the agricultural and industrial sector at 18 years old.

In a survey conducted in 2001, there were about 4 million children engaged in child labor, most of them in agricultural plantations and mining sites.

This November, the country is celebrating the 20th year of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC). The convention states that children have the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination.

Apit said the most violated children’s rights laws are those that outlaw child labor. (PIA XI)

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