US embassy cable - 00THEHAGUE1794

CHILD LABOR STUDY: REPORT ON THE NETHERLANDS

Identifier: 00THEHAGUE1794
Wikileaks: View 00THEHAGUE1794 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy The Hague
Created: 2000-06-16 13:06:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: ELAB EIND PHUM ETRD SOCI NL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001794 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DRL/IL FOR CHRIS CAMILLO 
DOL/ILAB FOR MARCIA EUGENIO 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ELAB, EIND, PHUM, ETRD, SOCI, NL 
SUBJECT: CHILD LABOR STUDY: REPORT ON THE NETHERLANDS 
 
REF: STATE 100081 
 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
1.  CHILD LABOR IS ILLEGAL IN THE NETHERLANDS.  THE COUNTRY 
HAS COMPREHENSIVE LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION TO PROTECT 
YOUNG PEOPLE AT WORK.  THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT TAKES A LEADING 
ROLE IN THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHILD LABOR.  IN 
MAY 2000, THE GON SENT A DRAFT LAW TO THE SECOND CHAMBER OF 
THE DUTCH PARLIAMENT FOR DUTCH RATIFICATION OF ILO 
CONVENTION 182 ON CHILD LABOR.  RATIFICATION IS EXPECTED 
BEFORE THE END OF 2000.  DURING THE ILO NEGOTIATIONS, THE 
NETHERLANDS ACTED AS COORDINATOR AND SPOKESPERSON FOR 
INDUSTRIALIZED MARKET ECONOMY COUNTRIES (IMEC).  THE 
NETHERLANDS ALSO ACTIVELY SUPPORTS THE INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM 
ON THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOR (ILO/IPEC). 
 
 
INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS 
--------------------- 
2.  THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT ATTACHES GREAT IMPORTANCE TO THE 
INTERNATIONAL FIGHT AIMED AT ELIMINATING ABUSIVE AND 
EXPLOITATIVE CHILD LABOR AND PROMOTING PRIMARY EDUCATION FOR 
CHILDREN.  THE DUTCH HAVE PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE 
NEGOTIATIONS LEADING UP TO THE ADOPTION OF ILO CONVENTION 
182 IN JUNE 1999.  DUTCH RATIFICATION OF ILO CONVENTION 182 
IS EXPECTED BEFORE THE END OF 2000.  BETWEEN 1999 AND 2003, 
THE NETHERLANDS WILL SPEND SOME FIVE MILLION DOLLARS PER 
YEAR ON CHILD LABOR PROJECTS, INCLUDING ILO/IPEC PROJECTS. 
THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT ALSO CONTRIBUTES TO THE ILO'S 
STATISTICAL INFORMATION AND MONITORING PROGRAM ON CHILD 
LABOR (SIMPOC). 
 
 
NATIONAL EFFORTS 
---------------- 
3.  THE 1919 LABOR ACT PROHIBITS FORCED AND BONDED LABOR BY 
CHILDREN IN THE NETHERLANDS, AND THIS PROHIBITION IS SHARPLY 
ENFORCED.  THE MINIMUM AGE FOR EMPLOYMENT IS 16 YEARS, AND 
FOR FULL-TIME WORK IT IS CONDITIONED ON COMPLETION OF THE 
MANDATORY 12 YEARS OF SCHOOLING. 
 
 
4.  HOLIDAY WORK AND AFTER-SCHOOL JOBS ARE TIED TO VERY 
STRICT RULES, WHICH ARE SET IN THE WORK-TIME ACT, THE CHILD 
LABOR REGULATION (FOR CHILDREN UNDER 16 YEARS), AND THE 
WORKING CONDITIONS DECREE.  FOR INSTANCE, PEOPLE UNDER 18 
ARE PROHIBITED BY LAW FROM WORKING AT NIGHT, OR IN AREAS 
DANGEROUS TO THEIR PHYSICAL OR MENTAL WELL-BEING.  CHILDREN 
OVER 12 YEARS ARE ALLOWED TO PERFORM SOME TYPES OF LABOR, AS 
LONG AS THE WORK IS NOT DONE DURING SCHOOL HOURS, SUCH AS 
WORK IN THE FRAMEWORK OF ALTERNATIVE SANCTIONS, LIGHT NON- 
INDUSTRIAL WORK, LIGHT WORK IN CONNECTION WITH SCHOOL, AND 
DELIVERING MORNING PAPERS.  OBSERVANCE OF THE RULES IS 
CARRIED OUT BY THE DUTCH SOCIAL MINISTRY'S LABOR INSPECTION 
OFFICE.  DURING CONTROLS BY THE LABOR INSPECTION LAST 
SUMMER, IT APPEARED THAT ONE OUT OF FOUR COMPANIES HAD 
VIOLATED THE REGULATIONS APPLYING TO HOLIDAY WORK. 
 
 
EDUCATION 
--------- 
5.  BASIC EDUCATION IS FREE FOR CHILDREN BETWEEN 4 AND 12, 
ALTHOUGH SCHOOLS MAY ASK FOR A VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTION FROM 
PARENTS.  VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IS ALSO FREE, EXCEPT FOR 
COSTS OF SCHOOLBOOKS.  MANDATORY ATTENDANCE AT SCHOOLS ENDS 
AT 16, OR AFTER AT LEAST 12 YEARS OF EDUCATION.  CHILDREN 
ILLEGALLY RESIDING IN THE NETHERLANDS ARE ALSO UNDER THE 
MANDATE. 
 
 
CHILD SOLDIERS 
-------------- 
6.  THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT RECENTLY DECIDED NOT TO RAISE THE 
MINIMUM RECRUITMENT AGE FOR THE DUTCH MILITARY TO 18, 
DESPITE HEAVY NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE.  THE 
MINIMUM AGE FOR RECRUITMENT IS STILL 17, BUT SOLDIERS MUST 
BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD TO PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT.  THEY ARE 
NOT SENT ABROAD UNTIL AGE 18. 
 
 
SEXUAL ABUSE 
------------ 
7.  INTERNATIONAL SEX TOURISM INVOLVING THE ABUSE OF MINOR 
CHILDREN IS PROSECUTABLE.  THE AGE OF CONSENT IS 16.  THE 
PROSECUTION OF ADULTS FOR SEX WITH MINORS BETWEEN THE AGES 
OF 12 AND 16 ONLY OCCURS WHEN A COMPLAINT IS FILED BY AN 
INTERESTED PARTY.  IN 1996, THE NETHERLANDS TIGHTENED ITS 
CRIMINAL LAW, QUALIFYING AS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE NOT ONLY THE 
PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION AND SALE OF CHILD PORN, BUT ALSO 
MERE POSSESSION.  THE MAXIMUM PENALTY FOR SUCH OFFENSES WAS 
RAISED FROM 3 MONTHS TO FOUR YEARS IMPRISONMENT, SIX YEARS 
IN THE EVENT OF FINANCIAL GAIN, AND THE MAXIMUM FINE WAS 
MORE THAN TRIPLED.  THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT HAS GIVEN PRIORITY 
TO FIGHTING THE PROBLEM OF TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN AND 
CHILDREN. 
 
 
NGO ACTIONS 
----------- 
8.  DUTCH TRADE UNION FEDERATIONS AND OTHER NGOS ARE VERY 
ACTIVE IN THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHILD LABOR.  THE FNV, THE 
LARGEST DUTCH TRADE UNION FEDERATION WITH MORE THAN 1.2 
MILLION MEMBERS, TAKES A LEADING ROLE IN THIS CAMPAIGN.  THE 
FNV SUPPORTS INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION PROJECTS AGAINST 
CHILD LABOR.  IT CONTRIBUTES TO PROJECTS IN INDIA, PAKISTAN, 
BANGLADESH, NEPAL AND THE PHILIPPINES. 
 
 
9.  THE FNV AND OTHER NGOS, INCLUDING DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE 
ORGANIZATIONS, CONSUMER AND WOMEN'S GROUPS, AND THE FAIR 
TRADE ORGANIZATION, HAVE INITIATED THE "CLEAN CLOTHES" 
CAMPAIGN, WHICH SEEKS TO IMPROVE WORKING CONDITIONS IN THE 
CLOTHING INDUSTRY. 
 
 
10.  THE "CLEAN CLOTHES" CAMPAIGN HAS USED THE EUROPEAN 
SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP, CURRENTLY BEING HELD IN THE NETHERLANDS 
AND BELGIUM, AS A PLATFORM TO PROTEST THE BAD LABOR 
CONDITIONS IN COMPANIES PRODUCING SPORT SHOES, CLOTHES AND 
FOOTBALLS.  FOR INSTANCE, THIS YEAR, THE FNV AND THE DUTCH 
ALTERNATIVE CONSUMER ASSOCIATION STAGED PROTEST ACTIONS 
DURING A NIKE SHAREHOLDERS MEETING AND DURING A RACE 
SPONSORED BY NEW BALANCE. 
 
 
11.  THERE IS STRONG SUPPORT FROM THE DUTCH FOR THE USE OF 
LABELS ON FOODS AND OTHER PRODUCTS (E.G., RUGMARK AND FAIR 
TRADE LABELS) SHOWING THAT PRODUCTS ARE PRODUCED WITHOUT 
CHILD LABOR AND FOR FAIR WAGES.  FAIR TRADE SHOPS SPECIALIZE 
IN SUCH PRODUCTS.  IN FEBRUARY 2000, THE DUTCH CLOTHING 
CONCERN "WE INTERNATIONAL" ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL DEMAND 
FROM ITS SUPPLIERS THE GUARANTEE THAT ALL "WE" CLOTHES ARE 
MADE WITHOUT CHILD LABOR, FORCED LABOR, DISCRIMINATION, AND 
UNDER HEALTHY AND SAFE LABOR CONDITIONS, USING THE "SOCIAL 
ACCOUNTABILITY (SA) 8000 STANDARD."  OTHER CLOTHING 
COMPANIES IN THE NETHERLANDS, INCLUDING C&A STORES, HAVE 
ESTABLISHED THEIR OWN CODE OF CONDUCT. 
SCHNEIDER 

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