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Greens call for review of child labour laws

19 November 2007

Greens call for review of child labour laws

The Green Party today welcomed the latest Caritas report on child labour 'Delivering the Goods' and endorsed their call for more protection for child workers.

"This new report is a wake up call to Government and employers that we can't go on ignoring the very real dangers to children in employment," Green Party Children's Spokesperson Sue Bradford said today.

"During discussion around my bill to abolish youth rates for 16 and 17 year old workers earlier this year, Government members said they were keen to see a full review of how we view and treat child workers in this country. I have heard nothing of such a review since.

"For too long the issue of child labour has been put in the too hard basket, partly because we have a strong culture of allowing and supporting our children to work, even from a very young age.

"However, in turning a blind eye to the dangers and exploitation risked by children in the workplace, we are letting down the most vulnerable workers of all, who are currently very much at risk in some employment situations.

"The Green Party calls on the Government to initiate a full review of how we deal with child labour in New Zealand, including:

* What is the lowest age at which children should be engaged in the workforce, including in 'informal' jobs such as delivering circulars and newsletters and helping out in the family shop, factory or farm?

* Should there be a limit on how many hours a child works each week; should this be graded according to age; and if so, how many hours are appropriate at which age?

* What restrictions should there be on the type of work in which children can be engaged at particular ages?

* Should children receive the same health and safety protections as adult workers, and if so, how can this be enforced properly?

* Who should take responsibility for ensuring that minimum wages and conditions for children and young people occur, and what should minimum wages be?

"I think it is urgent that we have a debate on this issue which involves all key stakeholders including Government, large employers, small business, unions, community organisations, parents, and most of all - child and youth workers themselves.


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