Onderstaand artikel is gepubliceerd in: The New Sunday Express (Coimbatore) , 18-5-2003      

MNCs employing child labourers, says NGO

Coimbatore, May 17

Leading multinationals (MNCs) are employing child labourers for cotton seed production in India on a large scale, according to SAVE (Social Awareness and Voluntary Education), an NGO working for the cause of child labourers.
A release from the NGO said that an estimated 25,000 children, mostly girls, worked for Hindustan Lever, an Indian subsidiary of British-Dutch multinational company Unilever, for about 10 to 13 hours, on an average, daily.
"About 17,000 children work for American MNC Monsanto and its Indian subsidiary Mahyco", the release claimed.
The release said that these children did not get any education, earned less than 40 Eurocents (Rs. 20) a day and were exposed to poisonous pesticides like Endosuphan.
These findings were based on a research done by Dr. D. Venkateswarlu, Indian researcher for the India Committee of the Netherlands, the release added.
According to the release, the research study also found that more than 11,000 children work under similar conditions for Syngenta (a Swiss company), Advanta (Dutch-British) and Proagro (owned by Bayer, Germany). "In India, about 4,50,000 children and in Andhra Pradesh, about 2,47,800 children were employed for cotton seed production", the release said quoting the study by D. Venkateswarlu.
The companies involved in the labour-intensive cotton seed production employed children through agents, the release said, adding 9 out of every 10 employees were found to be children between 6 and 14 years of age.
According to Dr. Venkateswarlu's study, almost 30 per cent of the children were being recruited by intermediaries to work as 'migrants' away from home, the release said.
"These children work 12 to 13 hours a day and sleep in cow shed or in a hild camp' where 10 to 13 children are cramped together", the release added.
To eradicate the menace of child labour, the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), the Netherlands Confederation of Trade Union (FNV) and M. Venkatareddy Foundation in Andhra Pradesh had initiated a campaign 'Stop Child Labour - School is the best place to work' in Germany, The Netherlands and Ireland, which had brought about 1,50,000 children from work to full-time education, the release said.
The Andhra Pradesh Government has adopted a similar policy which said no child should work and every child should go to a full-time school, the release said.
Accodring to the release, the MV Foundation in Andhra Pradesh is closely involved in combating child labour in the cotton seed industry.
It has already rescued hundreds of children from the cotton seed industry and has put them in full-time schools, the release added.
In Tamil Nadu, it was estimated that about 13 lakh children were employed as child labourers in garment industry in Tirupur, Chennimalai, Palladam, Avinashi and other industries such as match and fireworks, silver polishing in Salem, cashewnut industry in Nagercoil, the release added.


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