Temas Especiales

01 de Jul de 2022

Nacional

Panama kids work for pennies

PANAMA. Panama has had a 6. 4 percent increase in its GDP (gross domestic product) in the last 9 years yet its children are still worki...

PANAMA. Panama has had a 6. 4 percent increase in its GDP (gross domestic product) in the last 9 years yet its children are still working.

According to the last child labor survey done by the Comptrollers office, 89,767 children go out to work every day. They receive monthly average of $96 for their work.

The areas were more cases are registered are the indigenous areas with 35 percent, Los Santos 16.8 percent and Darien 21.5 percent.

Child labor is concentrated in field work, fishing and informal commerce. Alarmingly the survey also reports 14,890 kids working as domestic aids. Last year, 9,410 minors suffered work related injuries and illnesses as only 17.6 percent use protective wear to work.

Briseida Barrantes, coordinator of the program to stop child labor from the International Labor Organization (ILO), said the survey from the Comptrollers office reptresents a great advantage that allows the authorities to make a useful diagnosis and to apply more precise social policies.

“ Inequality has increased in the past decade in Panama. ILO has recommended boosting social aids to low income families and create more employment sources so child labor can be reduced” said Barrantes. According to the labor ministry (MITRADEL), the legal age for working in Panama is 15 year of age.

“The work code allows shifts for teens over 14 if they have completed elementary education” said Abdiel Sagel, National Inspections director from the MITRADEL. Sagel said the ministry is currently studying the possibility of reforming the work code to harden sanctions to the businesses employing minors illegally.

At the moment the fine for illegally hiring children ranges from $50 to $700. If they re-offend, the fine will repeat and the business could face a temporary shut down.

The diagnosis could not be clearer. Government must respond.