Box 7.3. Brazilian trade unions against child labour
Between 1992 and 1995, the Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) carried out a programme in 25 out of the 27 states in the country to train trade unionists on child labour issues in industries, in the informal sector and in agriculture; to provide assistance to union leaders concerning support for implementation of the laws related to children's rights; and to raise awareness on child labour among the general public.
CUT launched a national campaign with the slogan - "A child's place is in school. Say NO to child labour!". In the footwear industry and in the orange-picking sector, CUT drew attention to the use of child labour in these export-oriented industries. It also became instrumental in enforcing protective legislation for working children.
Another central trade union organization, the General Confederation of Workers (CGT), trained 120 trade union leaders and raised awareness on child labour. CGT organized meetings in five federal states where children work in the building industry, on sugarcane plantations, in textile factories, in markets, and in rural activities. The CGT focused on the hazardous conditions under which children work and the legal aspects of employing children.
The National Confederation of Workers in Agriculture (CONTAG), with over 50,000 affiliated trade union branches, organized a massive awareness-raising programme for trade unionists, workers, and the general public in 88 municipalities in eight federal states. The main objectives of the action programme were to produce and disseminate information concerning the rights of rural working children and to train trade unionists and monitors to improve collective agreement clauses. The project produced 10,000 copies of a booklet on the rights of rural working children, provided five training courses for trade union leaders and monitors, and produced a highly successful radio programme aimed at awareness-raising using a network of 200 local radio stations.
CONTAG activists were trained to support law enforcement of children's rights, to negotiate the prohibition of child labour with employers, and to participate in policy-making in municipal and state councils to protect child labourers. Recently, activities have focused on child labour in charcoal yards, sugar plantations and gold digging.
For several years, CONTAG served as the secretariat of the National Forum for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour. The Forum, established in 1994 and coordinated by the Ministry of Labour, includes the participation of governmental agencies concerned with child labour, employers' and workers' organizations and NGOs. It sets priorities for preventing and eliminating child labour and supports the implementation of Integrated Action Programmes by government and civil society in the fields of social assistance, education, health, law enforcement and social mobilization. CONTAG and the Forum are also involved in developing inspection and monitoring of child labour with the national government and NGOs.