|09QUITO69||2009-01-29 15:53:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Quito|
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1. In response to the Department of State and Department of Labor
request (reftel), post submits the following comment on the
Department of Labor's draft list of goods that may be produced with
forced labor or child labor in Ecuador. Please note Post's
recommendation in paragraph 5.
2. The majority of Ecuador's child labor is informal, with children
working alongside their families in family-run businesses, which are
difficult to regulate. This exists in the agricultural sector, in
the harvest of bananas and flowers, and in small-scale mining.
Formal industry and businesses are better regulated and child labor
is uncommon; many formal businesses work to eliminate child labor.
The GOE, NGOs and other institutions are taking steps to combat
child labor in Ecuador. Article 46 of the constitution, which was
approved in a referendum on September 28, 2008, states that the
central government will adopt measures to assure the protection of
children and adolescents against labor exploitation and implement
policies to eradicate child labor. It states that minors under 15
years old are prohibited from working, and that adolescents may only
work in exceptional cases that do not infringe upon their right to
education or endanger their health or development. However, more
needs to be done in the enforcement of child labor laws.
3. Flowers: In the formal flower industry, companies affiliated
with the export flower association "Expoflores" are inspected and
receive a special certification verifying that child labor does not
exist in their companies. The association participated with the
Ministry of Labor, CORPEI (Ecuador's export promotion agency), the
ILO, and several government institutions in a program sponsored by
the ILO to eradicate child labor from the flower industry in 2005.
However, according to flower industry experts, children still work
on some flower farms in the informal flower sector, albeit not in
the overall flower sector. Children working in the sector mostly
produce flowers for local sale in small, family-run informal
businesses. Larger, formal flower businesses go to significant
lengths to combat child labor.
4. Gold: Ecuador's Mining Chamber, along with the Ministry of
Labor and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mines, has worked to help
eliminate child labor from the mining sector. However, in the
informal mining sector, families involved in small-scale gold mining
often have their children help with the family business, similar to
the flower sector.
5. Recommendation: Post recommends that any published DOL report
clearly note that even if child labor exists in a particular sector,
this does not necessarily imply that all or even most producers in
that sector use child labor. As we have noted in this cable, in
Ecuador there is an important difference in how child labor is
addressed by small, family businesses in the informal sector and
large businesses in the formal sector.