Saturday, June 25, 2005

Child Labour Returns to Alberta



Province eases child labour laws


"Are there no workhouses, are there no poor houses, are there no orphanages?" Ebenezeer Scrooge.

No longer are ten year old hitched to coal wagons to haul the black gold out of Alberta's mines as they once were. Nope we outlawed child labour back in 1927. Yep as late as that.

Not satisfied with being the richest province in Canada and the one with the lowest minimum wage, the worst labour laws, lowest welfare payments, lowest support payments for people with disabilities, the least amount of public daycare, the Alberta Reich of Ralph Klein has reintroduced Child Labour.

Sneaky Tories, snuck this under the radar, and suddenly as of the begining of June it was ok for 12 year olds to go to work. To work in an industry like fast food where the health and safety laws are lax and the enforcement nil.

Learning a lesson from B.C. which re-introduced Child Labour several years ago with much public fanfare and creating a labour union backlash and firestorm, our clever Tories passed this law in cabinet, in camera, with no notice, it's a done deal.

B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair also noted that when the Liberals changed Employment Standards, prospects for BC's young job seekers went from bad to worse. "High school and college kids who had problems finding work in 2001 now have to compete with 12-year-old children for summer and part-time jobs," said Sinclair. "Employers can exploit kids as young as 12 for as little as $6.00 per hour, while older kids have to borrow huge amounts of money to finish school."

Yep thats the Tory cure for what ails our kids, make em wage slaves. Don't provide them day care, or early childhood education, nah make em work for a living. After all thats what capitalist education is all about isn't it. Getting kids ready for being the future wage slaves of capitalism.

And lets not forget we are talking about elementary and junior high school students. Elementary students going to work, that sounds scarier than just calling em 12 year olds. 12-year-olds join Alberta labour force says the headline, what if it said: Elementary Students join Alberta labour force, or perhaps Grade Six students forced to work for a living. Hmm more shocking that, eh wot. And more truthful.

And then we wonder why kids do poorly in school. High School and Post Secondary students already are working and going to school. And studies have shown working 2o hours per week (which is the average for most High School students in Alberta) impacts on their ability to study. Working and going to school leads to declining test scores. What will it do to the test scores of 12-16 years olds?

Of course the government will once again denounce the public education system for failing students, and propose more market options; charter schools, voucher funding, private school funding, for parents as they have done for the last decade.

The real crime against youth is the Ralph Reich that promotes the ideology that Government is in the business of serving business.

Whether its exploiting immigrant workers in non unionized packing plants, immigrant farm labour on Farmer Browns ranch in Southern Alberta, low waged child care workers in privatized daycares, supporting rat unions like CLAC and non-union merit shops in the construction industry, Ralph and his pals do it all to you for their pals in business.

And now they are allowing one of the most exploitative, non unionized industries to use and abuse Alberta's children.

Have they no shame, nah. Ralph is looking more and more like Scrooge and Alberta is looking more and more Dickensian than ever.



12-Year Olds Working in Restaurants? No Way!!

Tell Government kids belong in school, not serving sandwiches

Jun 24, 2005

As of June 3, 2005, the Alberta government now allows restaurant owners to employ children between the ages of 12 and 14 without applying for a permit. This change was implemented at the request of the restaurant industry and without public debate or notice.

The government is trying to say that the change is merely "procedural", but its real impact could affect thousands of children between the ages of 12 and 14. It could expose them to workplace dangers from grills, fryers and slicing machines. It also leaves them vulnerable to employer abuse and exploitation.

The AFL is opposed to 12-year olds working in restaurants, and is acting to get the government to reverse its decision.

What you can do

Albertans need to make their voice heard. The government needs to hear that it is not okay to put children to work. Tell them you want them to reverse the restaurant industry exemption. We don't want our kids serving sandwiches!

  • Call Human Resources Minister Mike Cardinal. 415-4800 (long distance dial toll-free: 310-0000)
  • Call or email your MLA today. Click here to get contact information for your local MLA.
  • Write a letter to the editor opposing 12-year olds working in restaurants.

1 comment:

eugene plawiuk said...

School workers take stand against child labour
Local 474 asks Edmonton Public to speak out

EDMONTON – The Edmonton Public School board should speak out against recent changes allowing children as young as 12 to join the workforce.

That was the message from CUPE 474 President Doug Luellman to School Board chair Sven Hansen in a recent letter to the school district.

"Studies have proven that student test scores decline when students work and go to school," writes Luellman. "To allow elementary and junior high school students to work in McDonalds is no different than allowing children to sew soccer balls or make rugs in Pakistan."

Luellman called on school trustees to pass a motion opposing the province's move.

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