3,000 Children Enter Informal Labor Force Annually

The SWO says 73.2% of working children are engaged in street vending.The SWO says 73.2% of working children are engaged in street vending.

The government should cooperate with the private sector in managing the situation of street and working children, said Minister of Labor, Cooperatives, and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei.

“As the representative of the private sector, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture can help government bodies in delivering this social responsibility and play a role in organizing working children in cooperation with the Labor Ministry,” he said at the last meeting of the government and private sector in the outgoing year, chaired by Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia, on Tuesday.

“Annually, around 3,000 children enter the labor force and join other working children,” he said, stressing that without the help of the private sector, the state cannot address such existing issues in the country, Mehr News Agency reported.

These children, mostly coming from negligent or insolvent or poor families, are part of the informal economic sector, which provides critical opportunity for the poor. Unlike the formal economy, activities of the informal sector are not included in the gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product of a country.

There is no reliable and precise official data on working children in the country mainly because there is no clarity on the definition of child labor in Iran, and therefore there are discrepancies in the figures.

Official statistics of the Majlis (parliament) Research Center, point out that as many as 3 million or 22% of Iranian children under the age of 18 are not attending school (not registered or dropped out for various reasons), while unofficial sources put this number at six million. At least half of these children (1.5 million) are estimated to be in the work force.

The sixth parliament (2000-2004) passed a law exempting workshops with fewer than 10 employees from the purview of the labor laws. Thus the Labor Ministry is not accountable for child labor in such workshops. Based on a 2015 study by the State Welfare Organization, 73.2% of working children are engaged in street vending.

The government is cooperating to some extent with the NGOs in empowering underprivileged families under a joint plan between the Helpers’ Network and the SWO that was launched many years ago, by identifying a number of needy children every year and providing them with clothing, education facilities, and other means of sustenance. The Helpers’ Network or the ‘Network to Help Children in Labor’ is a broad bloc of NGOs active in protection and support of labor children.

Recently, all state hospitals were instructed by the Health Ministry to admit child workers and their families free of charge for treatment. The directive is part of the ministry’s efforts to help ease the pain of the young but deprived segments.

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