Yesterday was the ceremonial commemoration of International Day against Child Labor initiated in 2002 by the ILO, a UN agency. In the promotional material, it’s to “highlight the plight of millions of children worldwide.” Golly that’s touching.
A lot of NGOs use the day for raking in funds; a few pull grandstanding stunts like “raiding” a sweatshop to free child workers. All of them address it solely as a human rights problem. That it is! But it is also a labor rights issue because under neoliberal barbarism, child labor is used primarily to weaken & undercut adult labor. But it has many other advantages, primarily that it is so damn easy to bully children into working fast, furiously, & without rebellion.
Nothing exposes neoliberalism more powerfully than the growing millions of tiny children working in mines, factories, brick yards, sweatshops. Neoliberalism shows itself as a system with no shame, with no respect for anyone or anything except profiteering. Child workers stand as the indictment beyond dispute.
This little guy is scavenging recycleables from a rubbish heap in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Keep in mind the rubbish heap has decayed food with bacterial growths, animal & human poop, used unmentionables like dirty diapers & sanitary napkins, tons of chemical waste. It’s a stinking mound of diseases waiting to happen. When children become both the chattel & the offal of the system, it’s long-since time to trash the system.