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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks for Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
ILAB Reports Release Press Conference
U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good morning.

Thank you all for joining us.

I would like to recognize Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Chris Smith, who are here with us today.

Senator Harkin has been a tireless advocate for over 15 years for putting a stop to the worst forms of child labor.

And Congressman Smith, who sponsored the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and co-chairs the Human Trafficking Caucus, has been a champion in ending abuses of human rights.

Today the Department of Labor is releasing three reports on child labor and forced labor around the world:

  • The first is — Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor is a report mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000;
  • The second is — The List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor, which is mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005; and
  • Lastly — The List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor under Executive Order 13126 of 1999.

In our Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, we publish information on whether countries given preferential trade access to the U.S. market are upholding their commitments to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

In this report we discuss each government's efforts to address the worst forms of child labor.

The report also highlights areas where additional efforts are needed — including legislation, enforcement, policies and social programs to address the worst forms of child labor.

The most significant change in this report is the inclusion — for the first time — of a set of proposed actions for each government to consider.

These actions would address the main areas of concern highlighted in the report and signal progress in fighting the worst forms of child labor.

The second report is the updated List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor. This year's report includes 6 new goods from 12 new countries, for a total of 128 goods from 70 countries.

These are goods that the Department of Labor has reason to believe are produced by forced labor or child labor in violation of international labor standards.

The third report is required under Executive Order 13126. The Department maintains a list of products, by country of origin, which we believe might have been mined, produced or manufactured by forced or indentured child labor.

The Executive Order List has been updated and we are looking to the public to give us comments on further changes to the list.

Protecting children and vulnerable workers abroad is a part of our overall efforts here at the Department of Labor. Since I took office, one of my primary goals has been to step up enforcement efforts on behalf of all workers, including children, here at home.

The Department has added 350 new field investigators, issued regulations to keep young workers out of hazardous non-agricultural jobs; and instituted a tougher penalty structure for employers found illegally employing child workers.

We are also exploring regulatory changes to further protect children in the agriculture sector.

We are also working in partnership with other countries to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

This year alone, we will provide another $60 million for programs to address exploitive child labor around the world.

This funding includes $40 million in grants to support the work of the International Labor Organization's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor in a dozen countries.

We are working with governments, the private sector and civil society to combat exploitive child labor in agriculture, including the West African cocoa sector; the Thai shrimp and seafood sector; the West African mining and quarrying sector; along with projects in Bolivia and El Salvador.

We are also working with Brazil to support the sharing of good practices as part of the ILO's efforts to promote South to South Cooperation.

I am pleased to announce that the Labor Department will also be funding other innovative programs to promote the rights of workers and improve their working conditions.

We will be providing the ILO a grant of over $5 million to expand the highly successful Better Work program into new countries, including Bangladesh.

Better Work is a factory monitoring program run by the ILO that is an important tool to improve factory conditions for low paid workers in developing countries.

We will also be starting a new worker rights program in the Maldives through a $640,000 grant to the ILO to help that government reform its labor law and improve labor law administration.

And we will be extending a program in Afghanistan that provides training to employers, judges and workers on labor rights through a $500,000 grant to the Asia Foundation.

Now is the time for us to redouble our efforts, renew our commitments, and follow through.

Because no one has the right to threaten the health, education, and well-being of children by involving them in illegal or inappropriate work.

No family should have to depend on the labor of its children to put food on the table and no person should be forced to work in captivity.

This is something that we can and we must all agree on.

Now, I'd like to say a few words in Spanish.

Primero, quiero darle gracias al Senador Tom Harkin y al Congresista Chris Smith por su apoyo en combatir la explotación de nuestros niños y de personas adultas en todo el mundo.

Luchar contra estos abusos es parte de nuestra misión en el Departamento de Trabajo.

Y lo hacemos en colaboración con los gobiernos de otros países, con organizaciones internacionales, y con la sociedad civil.

Por ejemplo, este año, hemos dado cuarenta millones de dólares en fondos para apoyar el trabajo de la Organización Internacional de Trabajo y su programa en contra la explotación de trabajadores infantiles.

También estamos apoyando y coordinado iniciativas en países como Bolivia, El Salvador, México, Nicaragua, y Brasil.

Los tres reportes que anunciamos hoy ayudaran a enfocar la atención mundial en nuestra lucha a combatir el trabajo infantil y el trabajo forzado.

Nadie tiene derecho a amenazar la vida, la educación o el bien-estar de un trabajador.

Y ninguna familia debe de depender de un niño para poner comida sobre su mesa.

Estos son principios universales.

Y aquí en el Departamento de Trabajo los tomamos muy en serio.

Muchas gracias.