Box 7.4. Direct action by trade unions
The programme of the Bangladesh Building and Woodworkers' Federation (BBWWF) attends to children working in informal construction industries in two locations. It provides 300 working children with access to government-sponsored schools and a "food for education" programme. It also raises awareness among adult construction workers, trade union leaders and parents of working children about the hazards of child labour and the advantages of education.
The Metal Workers' Union of Bangladesh is involved in a programme to remove child labourers from hazardous conditions in automobile, welding and engineering workshops. It has provided non-formal education and technical training to 60 children, who were also given food and stipends after they were withdrawn from work. After completing this training activity, older children found work, and younger ones continued their training with an NGO.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines assisted three NGOs which help abused child workers. When the telephone help line identified a serious problem among child domestic helpers, trade union lawyers assisted in removing the children from their employers' homes. Despite considerable difficulties and obstruction from the employers, who had paid a cash sum for the children, the children were eventually removed to a safe place.
The Rural Workers' Union of Petrolina in Brazil organized a project for child agricultural labourers who were working long hours and handling hazardous agrochemicals. These children were removed from work and given complementary education, as well as help with formal education. They were introduced to horticultural skills, together with their parents and communities. This project will now expand to another area and will provide training in raising birds, handicrafts and marketing.