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THE PHILIPPINES

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									                        THE PHILIPPINES
The constitution of the Philippines forbids the employment of children below the age
of 15 except under the responsibility ofparents or guardians, and then only if the work
does not interfere with schooling. It allows employment of children aged from 1 S to 18
under conditions established by the government. Nobody under the age of 18 is
allowed to take part in hazardous work but serious violations of child-labour laws
occur in the piecework or contracting out of embroidery and other work related to
textiles.


The field study
In the Philippines the field study looked at   obedient hands which have done jobs
a German textiles multinational with 48        such as sewing, embroidering, making
branches around the world, including one       button-holes and attaching separate pieces
in the Philippines, which produces             of the product.
women's clothing such as bras, girdles,
panties and bikinis. 98% of its output is
marketed in Europe; the remainder is sold   Working class
in the Philippines. This company produces   The parents of the child-workers are from
clothes in the Philippines because of the   the low-paid working class: mechanics,
low wages which it -has to pay, and like    drivers, farm-workers, electricians and
many other businesses in the Philippines    vendors. Their mothers may be garment-
it benefits from using child labour. It doesworkers working in the same hut. Families
not do so directly, but contracts work to   can have as many as 23 members, and
local firms and asks no questions; these    they live in dilapidated two-room houses
firms employ child labour themselves or     often with dirt foors and with ceilings so
sub-contract the work again.                low that adults have to stoop. These homes
 Some children start working at the age of  are sometimes close to the factory but
four.                                       many can be found on river banks and on
                                            the edge of swamps. There is no adequate
When local operators receive an order ventilation. Prize possessions are a
from a multinational for a certain quantity television set, a sewing machine and a fan.
of underwear, either they produce it in Sadly, frequently these «prizes» have
their own factory or they farm it out to broken down and the family cannot afford
sub-contractors in community-level to have them repaired.
«factories» that are nothing more than
small huts. Most of the community-level Latrines are often primitive, and stink;
workers are children. The child-workers, gastro-intestinal ailments are rampant.
mostly girls, are chosen for their extreme Children often have to make do with one
poverty, their docility and their dexterity or two meals a day, which inhibits their
with their fingers. The sub-contractor pays mental and physical development.
the children considerably less than the
contractor pays him for each item.          The field study found that from four to six
                                            years of age child-workers have their
There is always a delay in paying for the earnings appropriated by their mothers.
work which is contracted out, which means From seven to 12, children alternate school
that the child-workers have to wait for with garments production, and many of
their meagre pay-packets. Contractors also the children in this age group said they
compete fiercely to win the limited number sent their wages on school needs.
of contracts that are on offer. They offer From 12 to l some children try to get a
the very lowest possible price, and this secondary education but those who cannot
ensures that the child-workers' wages stay afford to do so go to work.
low. The beneficiary of this process is the
German multinational.                        Girls are under more pressure to give up
The underwear that reaches its main school than boys. This is because, in addi-
factory is in an advanced state of manu- tion to their jobs, they are expected to
facture, thanks to the young, delicate and carry out household chores such as
cleaning, washing, ironing and baby-            relations.
sitting. Many younger girls placed a high
premium on education, as they said that
their textile jobs were a stepping stone to     The multinational makes the money
better education. Some girls said they          These child-worker produce the women's
were working so that they could send their      underwear that the German multinational
younger brothers and sisters to school - in     sells on the world market, particularly in
a spirit of self-sacrifice they had given up    Europe. A piece for which a child in
their own ambitions.                            tattered clothes is paid 80 centavos can be
Their ideal, often expressed, was to            sold by the company for the equivalent of
become a nurse or doctor working                150 pesos, a difference of more than
overseas-a dream not for them but for           1,000% even considering the cost of the
their younger brothers and sisters.             raw materials.
                                                The field study found that in factories run
Four-year-old workers                           by the contractors the workforce ranged
Wages are paid by piece-rate. Children          from 30 to 100 people, and at home work-
aged between four and six, who do simple        sites from five to 30 people. In both, the
jobs, earn roughly five pesos a day, while      age of the workers ranges from ten to 45.
an l l-year-old may earn up to 10 pesos a       Almost all the workers are girls or women.
day. In factories, children work for eight      At home work-sites the ratio of adults to
to 11 hours a day, Monday to Friday.            children can be two to one.
In the peak pre-Christmas season they
work on Saturdays and Sundays as well,
and for a rush job they can work for as         No Job security
many as 24 hours before taking a break. In      In the factories the conditions of work are
the many an months they are encouraged to       what is known as "casual", while for those
come late and leave earlier which is in the     at home work-sites, there is no job security
interests of the sub-contractor who pays        at all. In the factories, the working day is
by piece-rate. Take-home pay from               from 7 am to 7 pm with an hour off for
factories varies between 15 and 150 pesos       lunch. At home work-sites there are no
a week.                                         schedules, and payment is by piece-work.
                                                For example, a seamstress in a community
If the work is not considered up to standard,   work-site gets five centavos to attach lace
the children have to re-do the rejects a        to a bra. She usually sews 500 pieces of
very unfair system which upsets the             lace a day and earns 25 pesos. At the
children, as they have to pay for the cost of   factories a folder/packer can earn 30 pesos
the thread and are not paid for the extra       a week for packing 1,200 half-slips or
work involved. They complain of back            bras.
strain and hand cramps after long hours of
stitching, and of allergies to factory dust     In the factories workers are given snacks
and eye strain. Accidents are frequent -        during overnight work and a free excur-
there have been several cases in which          sion to a resort every year. In the
children's fingers have been cut off.           community work-places, on the other
                                                hand, there are no benefits except access
Children are under such pressure to meet        to a television and cold water.
quotas that they repress the desire to use
the toilet. Sometimes they are sent on          One factory visited during the field study
unpaid errands while at work; they are          was a crowded, two-storey building
shouted at, cursed and otherwise                crammed with machines, bundles of cloth,
humiliated by their bosses.                     thread, plastic bags and cartons. It was
 Adult workers are given the best work          well-lit and the toilet was adequate. But
positions and access to fans.                   the place was poorly ventilate, and the
                                                smell of the textile was nauseating.
The position of children who carry out the      Chemicals irritated the eyes and the sound
same work at home is marginally better          of the machines was deafening.
than those who work in factories.
They are given more time to rest and are        More relaxed at home
not exposed to such a strict, menacing          The house visited in the field study was
boss, as they are in the charge of parents or   one of the better ones. Some other work-
places are dilapidated and poorly lit and      These children do not realise that they are
ventilated. This is particularly the case in   being exploited. They have no idea of the
the poorest communities, and it is here        multinational's profits. On the contrary,
that the children are under particular pres-   they regard themselves as lucky to have
sure to accept employment at extremely         the job so that they can afford to go to
low wage rates.                                school as well.
In the home work-sites, houses turned          Perhaps not surprisingly, the field survey
into factories provided a more relaxed         did not come across any case of children
atmosphere. Children watched television,       organising themselves to protest against
drank cold water or relaxed in the living      their low wages or appalling working
room during breaks.                            conditions.
Their main concern was when the sub-           Children keep quiet, as they dare not risk
contractor, who owns the house, demanded       losing their jobs, and they usually voice
more work - especially during the peak         satisfaction.
pre-Christmas season.

								
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