Protecting Working Children in North America
The North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation calls for the Council of Labor Ministers to promote cooperative activities among the three countries on labor issues. Pursuant to this directive, the National Administrative Offices (NAOs) of the three countries have developed a Cooperative Activities Program under which they sponsor trilateral, tripartite events on a regular basis. These activities are coordinated by the three NAO Secretaries: Irasema Garza, United States, May Morpaw, Canada, and Jorge Castañón Lara, Mexico.
This conference on Protecting Working Children in North America: A Shared Responsibility, held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 15 - 16, 1997, was the second cooperative event devoted to child and youth labor issues. The following report on the proceedings of that conference was prepared by the Canadian National Administrative Office. We gratefully acknowledge the effort of May Morpaw and her staff for their effort in hosting the conference and preparing this report. The views expressed by the individual participants are their own and do not necessarily represent those of the governments of the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
Irasema Garza, NAO Secretary
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Conference on Protecting Working Children in North America: A Shared Responsibility took place in Ottawa, Canada, October 15-16, 1997, under the Cooperative Work Program of the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation (NAALC).
Protection for children and young people is one of the 11 labour principles enshrined in the NAALC, one of two side agreements to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In support of this principle, Canada, the United States and Mexico, are working towards developing a better understanding of the legislation, policies and programs in place in each of the three NAFTA countries to prevent exploitation of young people and protect those legitimately in the work force and are committed to identifying ways to improve protection for young working people.
As a first step, a conference entitled Improving Children's Lives: Child and Youth Labour in North America was held February 24-25, 1997 in San Diego, California. The purpose of that conference was to exchange information on the situation of working children in each country and to discuss the innovative practices put in place to protect young people. (Copies of the proceedings from the San Diego conference are available from any of the three National Administrative Offices at the addresses listed on the inside cover of this report.) It was also agreed that further work on this issue was needed and, as a result, a second conference on working children and young people took place in Ottawa.
The particular focus of the Ottawa conference was on the role of all key players governments, employers, employees, organized labour, non-governmental organizations, school officials, health care workers and the whole community in reducing inappropriate child labour and ensuring the rights and responsibilities of young people in the workplace are recognized and respected. Following a brief overview of the child labour situation in each country, participants took part in one of two concurrent workshops, one of which addressed workplace issues and the other, community action and involvement. In addition to their main themes, each workshop also discussed the role of governments in addressing child labour. Each session featured a presentation by a panel made up of representatives from the three countries, followed by audience discussion. On the second day of the conference, rapporteurs reported on the key points raised in each of the four workshop sessions. Panelists from each country then commented on these reports and, together with audience members, attempted to identify key activities to be undertaken to improve the lives of working children.
The purpose of this report is to highlight some of the key discussions during the workshops. This report includes the workshop summaries presented by the rapporteurs and provides an overview of the key activities identified during the ensuing discussion.
One of the main conclusions of the conference was that all social partners have a responsibility to address child labour issues. The three National Administrative Offices have attempted to act as a catalyst by bringing together representatives of the key interest groups in each country and will continue to address this issue within their scope of responsibility. However, it is also up to other participants to do their part. We hope that some of the material contained in this report, together with the proceedings from the San Diego conference, will provide some of the tools needed to move forward and encourage new initiatives.
The Honourable Landon Pearson
I am delighted to be here today to renew old acquaintances and meet new colleagues who share my interest in, and commitment to, improving the lives of the young people in our three countries.
It is my task, and my pleasure, to give the "Charge to Conference" or, in other words, to provide some background and context for this meeting and to explain how we will proceed.
This conference brings together participants from Canada, the United States and Mexico under the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation, also known as the NAALC or Labour Side Agreement.
Two of the hallmarks of the NAALC are cooperation and dialogue not only among the three governments, but also among all sectors of our societies. Cooperative activities such as this meeting provide a unique opportunity for us to come together around a certain issue, to exchange information and learn from each other and, I hope, to head home not only with a better understanding of each others' situation, but with ideas for, and stronger commitment to, improving working conditions and the lives of workers across North America.
Cooperation and dialogue were certainly in evidence at the earlier conference in San Diego, and I trust they will be in evidence today and tomorrow here in Ottawa. Our goal is to address a common problem, not to point fingers or pat ourselves on the back, but rather to identify concrete actions and solutions that will allow us to move forward on an issue that is of concern to all of us.
The San Diego conference provided a wealth of information about the situation of working children in each country and some of the innovative practices put in place to protect them. I understand that the proceedings from San Diego are available here today and I encourage you to take a copy and read it. I can promise you that the document is not as daunting as it looks and the time spent perusing it will be well worth the effort!
In San Diego, we began to identify a number of common themes as we discussed the situation of working children in each of our countries. Some of these included:
While protecting children in all parts of the labour market is critical, we also identified special concerns related to the agricultural sector, particularly in terms of the safety and health implications for young people.
Finally, it was clear that all of society has a role to play in addressing these concerns, whether it is government, employers, unions, employees, community groups, school officials, health professionals, social workers, or young people themselves.
Indeed, the need to engage young people in finding solutions was one of the strongest messages emanating from San Diego. It is also a key requirement of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. As we discussed in San Diego, this Convention provides a useful framework for helping our young people to mature into healthy, socially responsible and productive adults. In addition to article 32 which specifically addresses child labour, another important provision of the Convention is article 12 which stresses the need for young people to participate fully and freely in discussions of all matters affecting them. In this respect, I am very pleased to see several young people here today and I look forward to hearing from them soon.
So, given this background, how do we move forward and build on the success of the San Diego conference?
The goal of today's conference is to focus specifically on what each of us, alone or in partnership, can do to reduce inappropriate child labour and ensure that the rights and responsibilities of young people in the workplace are recognized and respected. We will do this by directing our energies at three major themes: the role of governments; the role of the workplace partners, namely employers, employees and organized labour; and the role of community representatives.
In a few minutes, our first plenary will begin. In it, representatives of each of our countries will provide an overview of the key child labour issues in their country.
Then, this afternoon, the work really begins! We will divide into two simultaneous workshops, each of which will focus on two issues. In workshop I, participants will first discuss the role of governments and then the role of employers, employees and organized labour in seeking solutions to child labour issues. Workshop II will look first at the role of community representatives and then at the role of governments. In your conference kit, you will find lists of the participants in each workshop.
For each of the four workshop themes, there will be short panel presentations, followed by audience questions and discussions. And to ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard and that we proceed with our tasks in an efficient manner, each workshop will be led by a facilitator, whose job it is to keep the discussions on track.
For each of the workshop themes, someone has been assigned to report back tomorrow on the key points of the discussion. Once again, there will be short panel commentaries intended to elaborate and expand on the reports from the workshops, followed by audience questions and discussion. Then, in the final plenary tomorrow afternoon, one representative from each country will wrap up everything that was said and propose future directions.
There is one key to the success of this process and that is the full participation of all of us here today. We have all come here because we care deeply about the well-being of the young people in our countries and we all have knowledge and experience to share as well as more to learn. Therefore I encourage all of you, and especially the young people, to be open and frank and constructive in your interventions.
If I can offer any words of advice as we launch into our deliberations, it would be this: Participate fully and encourage your neighbour to do the same; be imaginative but practical in seeking solutions; look to the future but don't forget to build on what we already know works well; and focus on concrete outcomes that will allow us to look back on this conference as one that really did make a difference in the lives of young people.
WORKSHOP I - WORKPLACE ISSUES
Rapporteur: Juan A. Nevárez Espinoza, Mexico
In our working group, Rick Mines (U.S.A.) mentioned some of the obstacles that young workers face in rural areas; Sandra Morgan (Canada), specifically referred to what the Saskatchewan government is doing to protect young workers; and José Luis Delgado Balcazar (Mexico) talked about his government's main actions for child protection, and in particular the protection of young workers involved in formal economic activities under Mexican labour legislation.
According to Rick Mines, the importance of the results of the investigation by the National Agricultural Worker Survey (NAWS) on the different factors and conditions characterizing and hindering the work of young migrants in rural areas of the United States, especially those young people originating from Mexico and Guatemala, is undeniable. The following points stand out:
The Mexican panelist, Mr. Delgado, particularly mentioned a national children's program, whose main purpose is to promote the well-being of children through health, nutrition, education, basic sanitation and specialized care for those who face especially difficult circumstances, such as young workers.
However, he also recognized that governments alone are not responsible for solving the problems facing these young people but that is also requires civil society and its organizations, as well as employers, unions, academics, specialists and parents to assume a large share of responsibility.
Regarding legislation aimed at protecting child labour, he commented that, in fact, young workers in formal economic activities are protected and that, in any case, the task of protecting those youth who now mostly work in the informal sector should continually be pursued.
In this respect, the Government of Mexico, through its labour authority, has been implementing some innovative practices, specifically designed for young workers, in order to provide them with better and wider protection, such as:
The Canadian panelist, Ms. Morgan, made a detailed account of the actions that the Government of Saskatchewan has been taking to provide care and protection for youth and especially for young workers.
She mentioned the government's role in protecting youth in two areas: the enforcement of labour legislation and the programs undertaken by the provincial Labour Ministry; and, addressing the fundamental causes of abuse and exploitation of youth through the implementation of the Youth Action Plan.
She also spoke on the enforcement of various legal provisions such as the prohibition on hiring children under the age of 16 for high-risk activities such as construction, tree-cutting and work in production areas within industrial plants; and the minimum age of 16 for youth to be employed in hotels, restaurants, educational institutions, hospitals, seniors' homes.
She nevertheless made it clear that the above-mentioned labour standards and workplace health and safety provisions only apply when there is an employer-employee relationship; therefore, they do not apply to parent-child work situations, such as family farms, that can be dangerous work places.
That explains why the province has put special emphasis on a farm safety program through schools and its extension to high school students through a broader program in association with unions and companies.
Our colleague from Canada also mentioned the launching of the Youth Action Plan in Saskatchewan, which focuses on prevention and early response in children protection through cooperation between government ministries and hundreds of agencies and organizations that provide assistance to youth and their families in the province's towns and villages.
During the question period, the working group participants expressed an interest in various aspects, such as:
Finally, some areas of activity emphasized by governments:
WORKSHOP II - COMMUNITY ACTION AND INVOLVEMENT
Rapporteur: Brendan Flanagan, Canada
A key goal for this conference is to examine practical solutions for reducing inappropriate child labour and ensuring that the rights and responsibilities of young people are recognized and respected. Our workshop was asked to consider what the role of government is, and what it should be, related to community action and involvement in meeting this goal.
Francisco Robles Berlanga (Mexico) spoke about the children of farm workers. The needs of these children arise from the migration of farm workers from the southwest and mountain regions with their peasant economies and small holdings to the northern and coastal regions with their large scale commercial farms requiring large numbers of day labourers. These workers may move with their families back and forth every six months.
A program has been established which provides these workers with employment on social development projects in their home region to relieve pressures on their children to find employment. It also supports development of sustainable agricultural employment for them. When they migrate, this program provides hostels, food and medical support for them and their families, again to avoid the need for their children to work. For their families, the program provides day care for their children under age five and schooling for older children, recognizing that they may work. It also provides housing, health care, education and recreation for other family members.
Sandra Morgan (Canada) reviewed Saskatchewan's labour law which prohibits hiring of youth under 16 in the hospitality, education and nursing home industries and prohibits their employment in high risk workplaces. These laws do not cover children working with parents, which most commonly occurs in Saskatchewan on family farms. Farms are also the most dangerous workplaces in the province. In this situation, the government focuses on education and promotion. In partnership with the labour movement and with industry, a farm safety program includes presentations and interactive methods to help school children from age five to high school learn about labour standards as well as their rights and responsibilities and the hazards they will face in the workplace.
Saskatchewan also has a broader Action Plan for Children which takes a preventive approach to a wide range of children's concerns (family violence, teenage mothers, youth justice) which are usually linked to poverty in the family. This program respects the needs of children themselves, but also recognizes the need to involve family and community. especially where Indian and M‚tis children are concerned. A new component of this program, again with community groups and service clubs, is a strategy to combat child prostitution.
Claire White (United States) urged us to work with advocacy groups which she called "the conscience of the country." The Child Labour Coalition in the United States was largely responsible for the emergence of the federal child labour law. She talked about a Work Experience and Career Exploration Program under which 14 and 15 year olds who are at risk for dropping out can work longer hours, including during school hours (under supervision), to get experience in the work place. States can also apply to administer these programs.
Arthur Kerschner (United States) said that community partnerships were vital for attacking exploitative child labour and for promoting work which benefits children. No one agency can accomplish either on its own. He suggested that the only way to improve children's lives is to improve their parents' lives. He said that labour laws will never cover agricultural operations or the family farm. The only option is education. Regarding the garment industry, he suggested that both employers and employees should try to avoid government intervention. Everyone needs to be involved if child labour issues in these areas are to be addressed effectively. He said the role of government is to set and enforce laws, but also to use its resources and information networks to facilitate and partner with community groups. He talked about the many groups which have come together to develop the Worksafe Project to give children tips to keep them safe at work. Finally, he said that we need to create positive work experiences for children in school. If they don't get a chance to work, they won't stay in school.
After the panel presentations, there were a number of questions and comments. Regarding migrant children, it was suggested that governments are caring for children from their own countries, but not for those of migrant workers. We noted that migrant workers are not an issue in all three countries. (For example, in Canada, seasonal migrant workers do not bring their families.) Mexico, through its migrant worker program, is trying to prevent the children of migrant farm workers from being forced to work by supporting their families and enabling them to continue their schooling at home and on the road. Children learn while they are working. They become street smart. Schooling for children with street or work experience must recognize this. They should not have to spend time re-learning what they know from experience. In Mexico, dropping out occurs not because children cannot get access to schooling, but because of other factors such as family violence. It was also suggested that programs need to be adapted to what children and their families see as their needs.
Another topic was the lack of coverage of family farms by U.S. and Canadian labour laws. It was suggested that, as a minimum, there should be regulations covering children using pesticides and driving vehicles on these farms. We discussed the special working conditions involved in farm work and the lack of clear employer-employee relationships which make labour standards difficult to enforce for family farms.
We talked about a new agricultural safety audit which is being developed in Ontario for its Workers' Compensation Program. Family farms will be able to use this audit on a voluntary basis to identify safety hazards such as pesticides and vehicles and to make plans to remedy problems. This program will be implemented jointly by workers and operators. Growers' associations, the workers' compensation board and the federal and provincial governments are working together on this new initiative.
We also noted that many of the issues that arise in Canada's fisheries are similar to those in the agricultural sector.
The discussion then turned to the more general question of what the three countries' governments might do at a strategic level to raise public awareness of child labour issues. We noted the impact of the Clinton administration's efforts to deal with sweatshop conditions in the apparel industry. We also noted the Ontario Ministry of Labour's participation in the Safe Communities Foundation with in-kind contributions and expertise. We agreed that the enforcement role must continue, but should be strategically targeted. We heard about the U.S. Department of Labor's "salad bowl" project to target lettuce, tomato, cucumber and pepper producers. It was noted that targeting is increasingly needed as enforcement is expensive and resources are scarce. The U.S. Department of Labor and all of the U.S. labor law administration rely on voluntary compliance and on education and outreach to promote it. Department of Labor statistics show a progressive decline in the incidence of injuries to children consistent with the increasing use of education and outreach in the 1990s.
We noted that in many cases vocational training programs now incorporate health and safety components. The Internet is being used for outreach and the role of the U.S. Department of Labor's Teen Bill of Rights in informing young people of their rights was also mentioned.
We talked about what community groups may need by way of support and what governments should share with them. Canadian governments are jointly conducting a risk assessment survey which will be available to other governments and advocacy groups. We talked about schools which want to know which workplaces are safe for their students. State governments are reluctant to address this, but unions and the federal administration can do so.
Regarding new legislation to protect child workers, it was mentioned that advocacy groups may be in the best position to evaluate current laws and practices and to lever legislative change. It was also suggested that education and labour departments should pool funding and other resources to develop outreach strategies for the classroom, e.g., developing a test for admission to the workplace similar to that for a driver's license.
The last topic we discussed was how does government receive advice from children and others and how well does it listen? The U.S. Department of Labor contracts out focus group consulting and follows up on the results. Mexico does not use focus groups but acts on children's needs for clean, environmentally safe workplaces. The government in Mexico is updating its legal framework to make child abuse a criminal offence and to give adopted children the same rights as biological children. Children's rights are ensured by creating the conditions in which they can flourish. e.g., access to courts, prosecutors and offices for children's rights as well as program support for the most vulnerable families.
It was also noted that in Mexico non-government organizations or advocacy groups are not as widely developed as in Canada or the United States.
Two issues that we did not have time to discuss were whether establishing a floor living wage would be a better response to many concerns than the present minimum wage policies, and why governments do not do more to combat sex tourism to Asian countries.
Finally, the following topics were identified for further exploration:
WORKSHOP I - WORKPLACE ISSUES
Rapporteur: Sharon Brunson, U.S.A.
Mario Haroldo Robles (Mexico) presented information on the plight of agricultural workers in Mexico. Three-and-a-half million farmers in Mexico have lost their livelihood and many migrate to Sinaloa during the growing season. For every three adults, there is a minor. These children do not merely accompany parents, but work in the fields and have responsibilities and earn money as adults. Their work is a necessity. Efforts by producers and state institutions in Sinaloa have resulted in the provision of medical clinics, a kindergarten, schools and a nutritional system to help children overcome malnutrition. In 1997, a plan to gradually take children out of the fields was developed. As children are placed in educational environments, their salary will be replaced by a subsidy, or stipend, paid to the family. Starting in 1997-1998, there will be no opportunities for work for children under 10 years of age; in 1998-1999, it will extend to children aged 10-12; and in 1999-2000, ages 12-14. The program requires schools to adjust their calendars to 120 days and have Saturday classes to correspond with the growing season. Also, incentives will be offered to encourage workers to stay in their home areas, thus dealing with the problems of migration.
Paul Oliver (Canada) represented employers from the restaurant and food service industry. This industry is one of the largest employers of young workers in Canada approximately 24 per cent of employment for youth aged 16-19. The industry believes that enhancing awareness and improving communications is an effective way to respond to eliminating harmful youth employment. A Code of Practice has been developed which stresses the importance of balancing work with education and open communication between teachers and parents and recommends a maximum number of hours of work. A training video targeted at young workers in the hospitality sector has been developed and this approach will be expanded to young workers in the retail, service and hospitality industries through the Ontario Service Safety Alliance. McDonald's Restaurants of Canada has developed an awareness program which highlights the need to balance school and work, with education being the number one priority. The industry feels the most critical component to eliminating harmful child labour is education and awareness, with communication between students, teachers and employers. One size does not fit all and solutions to harmful employment need to be diverse and multi-faceted.
Janet Delecke (United States) emphasized that K-Mart's goal is to provide a positive work experience for youth that complements education. Child labour standards and policies are given to all managers and are reinforced by monitoring of stores to ensure that front-line managers know child labour laws. Minors are given a safety handbook and K-Mart ensures that they read it and that they also receive education about hazardous equipment. K-mart partnered with the Department of Labor in 1997 in their Work Safe this Summer campaign, which included putting posters on child labour laws in stores, establishing an Internet site and putting the Department of Labor's Work Safe this Summer hotline and Internet information on 37.4 million shopping bags. K-Mart believes that good communication is the key to ensuring compliance with child labour laws.
Questions, answers and comments raised after the panel presentations included the following:
What are K-Mart's responsibilities with regard to the goods they sell is there any way to identify that a product has not been produced by child labour?
What is the turnover rate in youth employment and how many youth go on to higher positions?
How should we deal with employers who don't follow the law?
What is the role of organized labour with regard to the employment of children?
How do the violation ratios in corporate facilities compare to franchised facilities in the restaurant industry?
In Sinaloa, is there encouragement for families in the agricultural industry to settle down?
The main themes in the discussions and in the actions recommended continue to be communication and diffusion and education through partnerships. Recommendations to ensure compliance with laws by employers; education of parents, teachers and youth on child labour laws; union representation; development of brochures on child labour laws all of these require partnerships and open communication between all involved which, of course, includes all of us in this room.
WORKSHOP II - COMMUNITY ACTION AND INVOLVEMENT
Rapporteur: Marthe St-Louis, Canada
Overall, participants in this workshop agreed that a concerted effort on the part of key stakeholders in the community was necessary in order to have an impact on the situation of child and youth workers.
But, in concrete terms, what does this mean?
The presentations by the four panelists provided much useful insight.
Darlene Adkins (U.S.A.) explained that community action begins with consumers and that, with globalization, consumers are expanding their focus and acting and speaking out on child labour abuse worldwide. But, since the conference in San Diego, there has been little concrete action by government. Countries have laws to protect minors, but many problems persist including insufficient inspection capacity. Consumers are increasingly speaking out against retailers and manufacturers and boycotting certain products. Ms. Adkins described a targeted effort under way, involving some 50 groups, to end exploitation of workers in the garment industry, domestically and internationally. In this regard, she welcomed a recent initiative by the U.S. apparel industry, with the active involvement of President Clinton, to end the use of sweatshops, to develop a common code of conduct for participating companies and to recognize the need for independent monitoring of this code. The next targeted sector for action by consumer groups will be the agricultural sector. Ms. Adkins concluded that we need more than laws, that we have to work towards solutions and that this requires a strategy and governments have a key role to play.
Robin Dewey (U.S.A.) described the three-year community-based Protecting Young Workers Project which is designed to enhance the health and safety of working teens in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts. The goal of this project, which has been under way for two years, is to reduce teen work injuries and prepare young workers to become advocates for safe and healthful workplaces. Achieving this requires the participation of employers and young workers, and both have responsibilities: for employers, these include controlling the hazards in the workplace and making sure teen workers are appropriately trained and supervised; for young workers, it means learning to recognize hazards and speaking out about them.
For such a project to be successful, you need to tap into key stakeholder groups which have a direct influence on the situation, such as parents, schools, community, labour and business organizations and the media. The objective is to create the support young workers need as well as a societal expectation that workplaces need to be safe for them. Ms. Dewey also underlined the importance of interviewing all players in the community before undertaking such a project, in order to tap into as many existing programs as possible. She went on to list many of the initiatives which have resulted from the project, such as developing curriculum and integrating it into classes; working with peer educators; and ensuring media coverage of special events. She also noted the challenge of reaching individual employers.
Theresa Stevenson (Canada) spoke about her long-standing involvement in instituting a lunch program for Native children in Regina, Saskatchewan. She noted sadly that she and her colleagues are now helping to feed a second generation of children, whose parents were themselves helped when the program first began. The need is greater than ever, with the increase in single parent families and the unemployment rate in the Native population of Regina, the lack of training opportunities, the increase in the drug trade and street prostitution involving children as young as age 10. Cuts in spending available for community-based projects are not helping. She spoke about the frustration of having identified the problems but not having the necessary resources to implement the solutions. Still, she pointed out that every effort counts, no matter how small what is important is to work from the heart and to act. The difficulty when you first begin is to get people to back you. You start small, you get noticed and the more successful you become, the more people you attract to your cause.
Magdalena Barba Fernández (Mexico) began her presentation by pointing out that all four panelists in this workshop were women, and this reflected women's leading role in the community. She went on to say that in Mexico, you cannot have an impact on child labour without first dealing with the basic needs of health, nutrition and education. Education of women is also essential in order to lower the birth rate, as it is very difficult to care for large families. She reiterated the essential role women can play in maintaining the strength of the family. She illustrated the efforts of the Mexican government through a program called "Make Progress" which provides funding to mothers whose children stay in school. The longer children stay in school, the more money is given to the mothers, and girl children are especially targeted as they experience a much higher drop-out rate than boys. Another facet of the program is improved access to health and food services.
In the question and answer exchange that followed, various points were made and issues raised, including the following:
Participants also spent time identifying ways that have worked for them in dealing with the major challenge of mobilizing employers and corporations, including:
Participants also stressed the need to really listen to the community before starting a project, not to limit consultations to the perceived leaders, to tap into as many places as possible, to adapt to cultural differences in other words, to follow the model adopted by many community groups which deal with the issue of child poverty in their neighbourhoods. One participant identified the need to get seniors and grandparents involved.
Our workshop ended on the need to address the problems of street kids, and this is a matter we identified as requiring further exploration.
Following the reports from each of the workshop sessions, conference participants and commentators discussed the findings to identify gaps and determine actions that the three countries could undertake. While there was no attempt to forge a consensus, the following summarizes the common themes of the discussion. Many participants noted that while there are things the three countries can do together, each country also has specific needs which must be addressed individually.
Activities for everyone
It was generally agreed that partnership is crucial in addressing child labour. Everyone governments, employers, employees, organized labour, parents, schools and young people themselves has a role to play. And everyone has a responsibility for bringing others into the discussion of child labour issues.
It was also agreed that it will take a long-term, concerted effort to end exploitative child labour. To meet this goal, education (for young people about their rights, but also for employers, educators and society as a whole) is key. It is particularly important that the education be appropriate to the audience and in language they can understand.
Activities the three countries can do together
Identify and build on existing resources: The two conferences held to date under the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation have identified a number of best practices and projects that can be shared and tailored to meet each country's unique circumstances. An inventory of these and other resources (e.g., ILO, OAS, EU) should be developed. A systematized means of sharing information in the future should be identified.
Research and data collection: There is a need for better data in order to determine the scope of the problem and for more research to better understand why young people work. In particular, steps need to be taken to ensure comparability of data. Areas where joint research can be carried out should be identified.
Education and awareness raising: The three countries should look for opportunities to conduct joint education and/or media campaigns, e.g., North American Occupational Safety and Health Week.
Issues for future conferences: Consider holding future conferences on issues such as industry codes; street kids; advocacy groups; migrant workers and education; enforcement techniques.
Activities that could be undertaken by governments
Governments should continue to play their traditional role as legislator and enforcer, but they also need to assume a leadership and motivational role.
Governments should be a voice for children.
Governments need to take a multidisciplinary approach to the issue.
Governments should address child labour within the larger context of poverty alleviation.
Activities that could be undertaken by employers, employees and organized labour
Form youth committees in unions.
Provide a means whereby employees can complain about abuses without fear of being fired.
Pay special attention to small and medium enterprises, family businesses and homework.
Develop, monitor and enforce codes of conduct.
Provide incentives for employers to act as role models for other employers.
Employers and unions should support and fund occupational safety and health activities aimed at young people.
Activities that could be undertaken by community representatives
Help consumers to make informed decisions.
Communities should act as a catalyst on these issues.
Focus on local initiatives.
Take inventory of community best practices.
Communities should lead the way in promoting good, safe working conditions for everyone.
Communities should foster an environment that enables young people to exercise their rights.
Invest in education.
This Canada-United States-Mexico tripartite conference is a cooperative activity under the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation (NAALC). It follows up on the conference Improving Children's Lives: Child and Youth Labour in North America which was held in San Diego, California in February 1997.
The topics will build on discussions at the San Diego conference:
The format for the conference will feature short panel presentations, either in plenary or in breakout groups, to encourage the full involvement of all conference participants.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1997
8:30-9:30 AM: Registration and Coffee (Capital Hall Level)
9:35 AM: Remarks by Heads of Delegation (5 minutes each)
9:45 AM: Charge to the Conference
10:00 AM: Plenary I
12:00 PM: Lunch
1:30 PM: Concurrent Workshops
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1997
9:00 AM: Plenary II
11:00 AM: Report from Workshops
12:15 PM: Lunch
2:00 PM: Report from Workshops
3:00 PM: Plenary III Future Directions
4:00 PM: Summary and Wrap-up
4:30 PM: Conference ends
MS. DARLEN ADKINS
MS. COLLEEN BAKER
MS. DORIANNE BEYER
MS. SHARON BRUNSON
MS. DAWN CASTILLO
MR. JOHN G. CLARK
MS. RENEE COLEMAN
MS. JANET DELECKE
MS. SUSAN CRAIG
MS. ROBIN DEWEY
MS. IRASEMA GARZA
MR. LEWIS KARESH
MR. ART KERSCHENER
MR. RICHARD MINES
MR. EUGENE PRICE
MS. ADRIENNE RAMIREZ
DR. MICHAEL D. SCHULMAN
MS. CORLIS L. SELLERS
MS. CLAIRE WHITE
LIC. MAGDALENA BARBA FERNNDEZ
LIC. MARIA DEL CARMEN BERECOCHEA FERNANDEZ
LIC. JORGE CASTAÑON LARA
LIC. JOSE LUIS DELGADO BALCAZAR
LUIS E. GONZALEZ
LIC. RICARDO MARTINEZ ROJAS
ING. JUAN ANTONIO NEVAREZ ESPINOZA
DR. JOSE MIGUEL RAMOS GONZALEZ
LIC. FRANCISCO ROBLES BERLANGA
LIC. ULISES RUIZ LOPART
MR. ARMANDO VIVANCO-CASTELLANOS
MS. NANCY ANDERSON
MS. ANNA-KARINE ASSELIN
MS. CATHERINE AUGER
MS. ROBERTA BALMER
MR. STEPHEN BEATTY
MR. JAKE BERENSHTEYN
MONSIEUR RODRIGUE BLOUIN
MR. GEOFF BRENNAN/MR. JOHN TREMBLE
MS. DONNA CANSFIELD
MS. WENDY CHEUNEY, M.D.
MS. TARA COLLINS
MS. BONNIE CONRAD
DR. KATHERINE COVELL
MS. CINDY DESOUZE
MONSIEUR PIERRE DIONNE
MR. ERWIN DREESEN
MR. Jonathan Eaton
MR. BERNIE FITZPATRICK
MR. BRENDAN FLANAGAN
MS. CATHERINE FOTHERGILL-PAYNE
MS. CATHIE GUTHRIE
MS. LAURA HANNANT
MRS. ALLA IVASK
MR. PAUL KELLS
MS. TINEKE KUJIPER
MS. ANNIE LABAJ
MONSIEUR RICHARD LANGLOIS
MS. CLARENCE LOCKHEAD
MRS. SHARON MAHONEY
MS. GILLIAN MANN
MAITRE LOUISE MARCHAND
MR. JIM MCFARLANE
MADAME FERNANDE MEILLEUR
MS. PEREZ MORANGI-NYAMWANGE
MR. DAN MOREY
MS. SANDRA MORGAN
MR. PAUL OLIVER
MS. HEATHER OLSON
MADAME LORRAINE PAGE
MADAME MURIELLE PAQUETTE
MONSIEUR PIERRE PAQUETTE
MS. MARIE PEARCE
DR. BROOKE PEARSON
THE HONOURABLE LANDON PEARSON
MADAME MARIE PEPIN
MONSIEUR YVES POISSON
MONSIEUR PIERRE ROY
MADAME RITA ROY
MS. KATHERINE SCOTT
MR. ROSS SNYDER
MR. DAMIAN SOLOMON
MS. THERESA STEVENSON
MS. MARTHE ST-LOUIS
MS. KAREN THIESSEN
MONSIEUR JAMES THWAITES
MS. JENNI TIPPER
MADAME GUYLAINE VALLEE
MR. JOHN VANDER DOELEN
MS. ANN WESTON
MS. DALE WHITESIDE
MS. HELENE YAREMKO-JARVIS
MR. ALFREDO HERNANDEZ