Child Labor On Farms

13 Mar 2006

More than 10,000 children aged 16 years and under are estimated to be working in the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe. Because the wages of farm workers are insufficient to sustain their families, children are also being employed to supplement family incomes.

Gertrude Hambira, secretary-general of the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), has told UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN),
that her organization would ask the help of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to halt child labor on farms. ‘Children should be in schools and not working on farms,’ said Hambira.

She added that, ‘Commercial farmers are making children work on their farms in exchange for a free education on farm schools’.

Farmers using child laborers in exchange for an education call the the system ‘Learn as you earn’, and Davidson Mugabe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, claims the concept is beneficial for children. ‘The new farmers are doing a good job of ensuring that young children get an education: there is no sinister agenda,’ he has commented.

Wellington Chibebe, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, on the other hand, warns that, if the government fails to stop child labor on farms, his union will take the case to the International Labor Organization. Such a move might result in a boycott of Zimbabwe’s farm produce.

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

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