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Cablegate: Portugal: Information On Child Labor and Forced

VZCZCXRO2166
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHLI #0027/01 0191821
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191821Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8070
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LISBON 000027

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO DOL FOR ILAB LEYLA STROTKAMP, RACHEL RIGBY,
AND TINA MCCARTER
DEPT FOR DRL/ILCSR SARAH MORGAN
DEPT ALSO FOR G/TIP MARK TAYLOR AND LUIS CDEBACA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EIND ETRD KTIP PHUM SOCI USAID PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGAL: INFORMATION ON CHILD LABOR AND FORCED
LABOR IN THE PRODUCTION OF GOODS

REF: A. 09 STATE 131997
B. 08 LISBON 1324

LISBON 00000027 001.2 OF 002


1. Per Ref A, Poleconoff contacted the Portuguese Ministry of
Labor, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and local
NGOs to obtain current information on the use of forced labor
and exploitative child labor in the production of goods in
Portugal.

2. According to Fatima Matos, Coordinator of the Program for
Inclusion and Citizenship (PIEC) in the Ministry of Labor,
there is very little evidence of forced labor or exploitative
child labor in the production of goods. She acknowledged,
however, that some Roma are using their minor children as
street beggars and that undocumented African minors could
also be working illegally. Local NGOs -- the Institute of
Support to Children and the National Confederation of Action
on Child Labor -- and the ILO Portugal office all agreed that
child labor and forced labor in the production of goods were
no longer problems in Portugal. ILO/Portugal child labor
expert Sofia Amaral de Oliveira noted, however, the
increasing use of children in the Portuguese entertainment
industry, particularly in soap operas and commercials.

3. Background: In 1998, an international NGO estimated that
there were 200,000 minors working in Portugal, an inflated
estimate according to PIEC Coordinator Matos. The government
disagreed with the figure but acknowledged the problem of
child labor and the need to address it. In 1998, it
conducted a nationwide survey, in accordance with ILO
methodology, among families with school-age children to
assess the extent and nature of the problem; developed the
Plan for the Elimination of Exploitation of Child Labor
(PEETI); and revised labor laws on child workers. The
Ministry of Labor established a working group to further
study the problem. In 2001, a survey showed that an
estimated 49,000 minors were involved in some type of
economic activity, of which 28,000 were engaged in light work
(less than 15 hours per week), 7,000 in regular work (15-35
hours per week), and 14,000 in dangerous work more than 35
hours per week. Of those engaged in light work, most (83
percent) were uncompensated family workers in the textile and
shoe industries and agricultural sector in the North.
Between 2000 and 2006, the majority of minors engaged in
child labor were working in the civil construction (28
percent), hotel (18 percent), textile (13 percent), and food
(11 percent) industries. The working group identified
economic need as the primary cause of child labor, and
recommended remedial measures to fight poverty and social
exclusion.

4. Government Action: Since 1998 Portugal has effectively
addressed child labor and forced labor through increased
protection and intervention, according to Ines Pereira,
advisor to the PIEC Research and Planning Team. The
government, in partnership with civil society, undertook
awareness-raising campaigns, increased labor inspections,
engaged in social dialogue with employers' organizations,
developed educational programs, provided subsidies to
low-income families, and revised labor laws to better protect
children against exploitation. According to Coordinator
Matos, PIEC works closely with municipalities, district
councils, local NGOs, ILO, and the National Commission for
the Protection of Children and Youth, which coordinates
intervention efforts through a nationwide network. The
commission is fully funded by the Ministry of Labor and the
Ministry of Justice. The Labor Ministry also funds and
coordinates the Integrated Program for Education and
Vocational Training (PIEF), which uses alternative
educational methods to provide non-traditional schooling to
child workers and at-risk children who are unable to stay in
school. The program currently numbers 2,500 students,
primarily boys aged 13 to 17. Established in 2009 to address
current needs, PIEC has a broader mandate than its
predecessor Program for the Prevention and Elimination of
Exploitation of Child Labor (PETI)(2004-2009), which focused
on preventing and combating child labor. PIEC identifies
families with children at risk and helps children stay in
school. It focuses on social inclusion and poverty
alleviation, and works closely with the Labor Inspectorate
(under the Authority for Labor Conditions), referring cases
for inspection.

5. Concrete Results: Government efforts, in collaboration
with civil society and the private sector, have resulted in
near eradication of child labor. ILO/Portugal expert Amaral

LISBON 00000027 002.2 OF 002


noted a dramatic decrease in the number of child workers and
the number of children dropping out of school over the past
ten years. She was not aware of any recent cases of
exploitative child labor or forced labor, but did acknowledge
"some residual cases" until 2008. PETI estimated that 13
children under the age of 16 were engaged in illicit child
labor in 2006, compared with 126 minors in 2000. The Labor
Ministry's Authority for Labor Conditions, which is
responsible for investigating and responding to reports of
illicit child labor, registered six cases in 2008 and four
cases during the first six months of 2009.

6. New Form of Child Labor: An increasing number of children
are working in the Portuguese entertainment industry.
ILO/Portugal expert Amaral attributed this new phenomenon to
the growing popularity of Portuguese musicals and soap
operas, and pointed out that the Labor Code, which requires
entertainment companies to obtain authorization from the
National Commission for the Protection of Children and Youth,
provides strict regulation. In 2009, the Labor Code was
revised to simplify the lengthy, bureaucratic authorization
process and to provide better protection against exploitation
of child workers. In 2009, the Labor Code also revised the
regulation on domicile work to clarify that child labor laws
were also applicable to family members who assist independent
contractors working at home for third parties.

7. CPLP Action Plan: In recent years, the Portuguese
government, in collaboration with the Community of Portuguese
Language Countries (CPLP), has been developing initiatives to
help other countries eradicate child labor. In May 2006,
ILO/Portugal, the Ministry of Labor, and the Executive
Secretariat of CPLP organized a conference on "Combating
Exploitation of Child Labor in the Portuguese-Speaking World"
in Lisbon to establish eradication of child labor as a
priority, exchange ideas with ILO/Brazil and ILO/Geneva, and
disseminate best practices. CPLP Ministers of Labor issued a
joint declaration for a plan of action, which was presented
at a CPLP-organized press conference in June. In September
2006 during a ministerial in Guinea-Bissau, they agreed on
the need to eradicate child labor and adopted a plan of
action for all CPLP countries to ratify ILO Convention 138
(minimum age of employment) and ILO Convention 182
(elimination of the worst forms of child labor) by 2010, and
to eradicate the worst forms of child labor by 2016.
(Portugal ratified ILO Convention 138 in 1998 and ILO
Convention 182 in 2000.)


For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal,
please see our Intelink site:

http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/portal:port ugal
REITER

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