The US raises vigilance in regard to child labor

Note published in Reforma, Negocios [Business] Section by Verónica Gascón.
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Note published in El Norte, Negocios [Business] Section by Verónica Gascón.
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Note published in Mural, Negocios [Business] Section by Verónica Gascón.
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Employment under Observation
Almost 42 thousand minors work in activities relating to the three new products added by the US Department of Labor.

children work in livestock activities, even though farming work is considered to be dangerous for minors.



children younger than 15 are employed in clothes manufacturing, particularly in Puebla and  Guanajuato.


Children work in the manufacture of leather goods.

Source: National Survey of Occupation and Employment, Child Labor Module

The United States added three new activities to the list of products made using child workers: livestock, clothing manufacturing and leather goods manufacturing.

With this, Mexico now has 13 products included in the “List of goods produced through child or forced labor, 2020”, which could result in a complaint against the country within the framework of the USMCA.

The list of foods produced using child workers, prepared by the US Department of Labor included green beans, coffee, cucumbers, eggplants, melon, onion, sugarcane, sugar and tobacco.

Chili and tomatoes were included among the products made using both child and forced labor.

The report establishes that there is data that reveals the participation of children between 5 and 17 years of age in livestock activities in Mexico.

It quotes figures from the Child Labor Module of the 2017 ENOE [National Survey of Occupation and Employment], where it is estimated that 18 thousand 501 children work in livestock activities.

“According to the national legislation of Mexico, farming activities, livestock among them, are considered to be dangerous occupations and are prohibited for children under 18 years of age”, states the text.

In the production of chili, the report considers that forced labor of people contacted by “recruiters” is used.

“Many of these victims claim that they are recruited through intermediaries, called “recruiters”, who lie to the workers about the nature and conditions of the work, wages, work hours and the quality of living conditions”, it explains.

These cases occur in Baja California, Chihuahua, Jalisco and San Luis Potosí.

“Once they find themselves in the fields, some of them work for up to 15 hours a day, under the threat of being fired and without receiving any wages or with the payment of wages below the minimum”, it points out.

Óscar de la Vega, a labor lawyer, said that the US unions will be very active in monitoring the compliance of Mexico’s obligations in regard to labor rights.

“We have Chapter 23 of the USMCA, that establishes which are the principles that it regulates and talks about freedom of association, the elimination of any type of forced labor and the abolition of child labor. (The unions) will surely be documenting these topics”, he stated.

The report warns that the US commercial agreements require that the commercial partners protect workers’ rights.

“The labor chapter of the USMCA requires that each country prohibits the importation of merchandise from other sources produced, in whole or in part, using forced labor or exploitation, including compulsory child labor”, states the document.

It adds that child and forced labor cannot be eradicated without the commitment of the companies.