The Rights of children and adolescents on May the 1st

The Rights of children and adolescents on May the 1st


In Chicago city, on May the 1st of 1886, a strike for 8 hours of work ended with the execution of a Group of sindicalists, later known as the Chicago Martyrs. To commemorate that date, ever since 1889, on May the 1st, the whole world celebrates The International Worker’s day. This is a day to reflect and revindicate. A moment of historic rememoration to the particular worries and propositions that move workers every year.

Without a doubt, this year’s celebrations on May 1st will be marked by a context in which a pandemic is occurring. Not only in the ways of celebration that are conditioned by isolation and confinement that don’t allow or limit the traditional concentrations and public manifestations, but also, mainly because of the revindications and propositions that workers might do in the context of a non precedented worldwide pandemic.

The Interamerican Institute of Children and Adolescents (IIN) is an organism that specializes in the ages surrounding Infancy and Adolescence , and, we’ve said this many times: “work is something only grown ups must do”. We should ask ourselves ¿What meaning does the International Worker’s Day have for children and what does it have to do with their human rights?

Children and adolescents are part of the societies they live in, so their life conditions, and the access to their rights is directly affected by the economic and political situations that society goes through.

America is the most uneven continent in the planet. COVID 19, besides its medical and sanitary effects, has shown that protection systems and work conditions for people who are economically productive are not as advanced as we thought.

Society is facing a critical situation as a whole. The pandemic seems to be the most visible threat bur, alongside it, in the core of working families, especially the most vulnerable ones, there is a very realist concern for the continuity of work. Confinements and quarantines make poverty emerge in those families that barely live through informal jobs, for which there is no insurance or recognition of labour rights. We are talking about families that live without any savings from day to day, and have no possibilities of retrocession in their narrow levels of consumerism.

There is more precariousness regarding work because of this crisis, and workers negotiations are facing damages. This also compromises the capacity of each family to be able to care for and raise children. Honest and legally regulated work gives workers a better chance at parenting, specially when it comes to protection, supervising and orientation of children. When minimum leves of a dignified lifestyle aren’t assured, adults, parents and others, can’t have time to give attention to kids, they can’t talk, share or play with them. Children end up feeling the absence of adults, they become lonely and unprotected.

On Worker’s day, we can’t ignore more than 15 million children who work in Latin America. Half of them are 6 to 14 years old. Kids who are younger than 12 work in any economic activity, teenagers from 12 to 17 years old are also working, even on jobs that could harm them physically. We should also take into account the children who are facing the worst kind of child labour such as slavery, forced recruitment, prostitution, human trafficking, drug selling, the obligation to engage in illegal activities or the exposition to all sorts of danger.

The organizations that protect the rights of children have agreed that child labor should be eradicated. However, in the Americas, there are structural reasons that make this type of labor a necessity for many families that live in extreme poverty, specially those monoparental homes led by women.

Behind every working kid, there is a family who is struggling economically, that is subsisting based on informal work and requires children to work for their survival. Crisis and labor precariousness will increase as this conditions increase. So there will be more children who will have to work from early ages in order to bring food to their own tables and to help their families.

In this situation, kids who work can count on organizations that try to better their work conditions and defend their dignity. In that way, kids who work have asked their states and international organizations “That the article 32 of the CDN that establishes that every child or teenager must be protected against any kind of work or economic exploitation, recognizing that kids can work in a protected environment” (Declaration of Cartagena 2019).

From IIN-OEA we claim this day as an opportunity to see the situation that child workers and their families are living during this crisis. Their situations are threatened, so are their living conditions, their dignity, their rights and their opportunities to make propositions.