In Thailand it’s not unusual to see children working in restaurants – some looking as young as 4 or 5. They, presumably sons and daughters of the owners and staff, take orders and deliver food, sometimes late into the night. Not a great situation, but far worse happens behind the doors of garment factories and seafood processing plants. It’s not unusual for 11 and 12 year olds to be working 12 or more hours a day. (That’s below legal minimum working age of 13 – but enforcement of the law is lax.)
Thailand is on a US watchlist because of its child labour situation. The government’s response has been to draft a list of dangerous work. It includes:
- Working night shifts between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m..
- Working in a slaughterhouse
- Working on scaffolding above 10 metres. (It’s apparently OK for a child to fall from 9 metres as it will bounce.)
- Working on a fishing trawler
It’s rather horrific to think that there must be children doing these things if the government needs to include them on a list – not that the list will make any difference to these children’s lives whatsoever. (Living in Thailand makes one very cynical about the police when it comes to suppressing crime. They’re excellent at running illegal gambling dens, taking bribes, and extorting money, though.)
What is rather strange, though, is that the Thai government appears to be concerned about what the American government thinks. After all, the Prime Minister last month appointed Nalinee Taveesin to the Cabinet, even though she is subject to US sanctions for facilitating gem trading, real estate transactions and financial transactions for the Mugabe regime.