Bolivia leader — an ex-child worker — opposes child labor age

LA PAZ, December 23, 2013 (AFP) – President Evo Morales said Monday he opposed any outright ban on child labor or setting a minimum age for workers in Bolivia — as a former child worker, himself. Despite recent declines in the worldwide incidence of child labor, much more must be done to tackle the issue, the Third International Conference on Child Labor heard in Brazil in October.

At that conference, International Labor Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder urged redoubled efforts, decrying that a target to eliminate the worst instances of child labor by 2016 will not be met.

Latest ILO global estimates show the total number of child laborers has dropped by one-third to 168 million since the last conference in The Hague in 2010.

The ILO also aims to highlight the plight of children working in difficult-to-monitor sectors of the economy, such as agriculture and illegal or hidden economic activities. These are where most child workers in Bolivia toil. “It should not be banned,” the socialist president, 54, said, drawing on his own experience to explain his opposition to legislation under consideration that would set a minimum age of 14 for child workers.

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