21 Jul 2015

Samoa labour laws fail to protect midnight child workers

4:51 pm on 21 July 2015

A union in Samoa says child labour laws need to be ramped up to stop children working on the streets at midnight.

Child labour is illegal and the Education Act prevents children under the age of 15 working during school hours in Samoa.

But the Samoa First Union, which is a new branch of the New Zealand based First Union, says it has received notification of what appear to be several child labour cases in Apia.

Its coordinator Jerome Mika says he has seen children working late into the night and the law needs to be extended.

"I'd come out of a restaurant when I was in Samoa, Sunday morning, and it was just really concerning to see that you had kids outside at around twelve thirty, one o'clock. Is it reasonable to have a child out at around twelve, one o'clock in the morning? And that's the question we need to ask and I don't think it is. When the kid should be sleeping and getting ready for Sunday school, they're out on the streets at a very unreasonable time."

Jerome Mika says working for the family has always been a part of the culture but it should not interfere with a child's health or education.

A new bill to stop child labour outside school hours is expected to be considered by Cabinet in August.

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