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Child Labour

Volume 407: debated on Friday 20 June 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if she will make a statement on treatment of child labour on banana plantations in Ecuador. [119987]

There are some 6,000 children working on plantations in Ecuador and thousands more working on small farms. They do so because of the lack of earning opportunities available to their parents. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that children are being forced against their will to work in plantations. The only sustainable solution is to improve earning opportunities for poor people. We continue to encourage multilateral donors to focus their support on the needs of the poorest to help achieve this.DFID's Civil Society Challenge Fund is supporting a cross regional programme of assistance for banana workers in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. This project is managed by the UK based NGO 'Banana Link' and aims to secure and maintain the freedom of plantation workers to organise themselves into independent trade unions and to participate in free collective bargaining.The British embassy monitors the compliance of Ecuador to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights legislation to which Ecuador is a signatory. The UK Government are committed to helping eliminate child labour globally, particularly the worst forms such as child slavery, and all forms of abusive or exploitative child labour. The Government strongly supports the International Labour Organisation's work to fight child labour and the UK has ratified both of the ILO Child Labour Conventions.