Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The scandal of child labour in US farming | Susana Adame | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

The scandal of child labour in US farming Susana Adame Comment is free guardian.co.uk

The problem here is that there is a significant difference between an agricultural industrial farm and a family owned farm. Most farms in the US today are owned by massive corporations that use tools, heavy machinery and engage in extensive pesticide spraying. Child labourers (who are often as young as seven or eight) working on these industrial farms can expect to work 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week. Lunch breaks are often only a half hour and as with most farm workers, bathrooms and even clean water to drink are rarely supplied by the growers. Federal minimum wage is $7.50 an hour, but because farm workers are paid by the bucket rather than by the hour, their wages often average out to as low as $2.38 an hour.

For children, payment for labour presents a unique problem. Because children are often too young to collect their own pay, parents are paid instead. While it may not necessarily be a bad thing for kids to give their earnings to parents to help with bills, it does seem ironic at best that children are working full-time jobs but because they are not officially on the books, they are not eligible for worker's compensation should they get sick or hurt, unemployment benefits during any period they aren't working, nor are they even getting credit for paying into social security. If we have no problem "teaching" kids the benefits of working full time, then shouldn't we also be teaching them what rights they have as workers?

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