Wed, 23 Jul 2003

Children banned from certain jobs

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government has taken steps toward banning certain jobs for children in order to protect them from health and moral hazards and to ensure their safety, a senior government official said.

Director General for Manpower Supervision, MSM Simanihuruk, said on Tuesday, that jobs involving the production, operation and maintenance of power plants, heavy equipment like tractors, or other devices like sewing machines, would be on the list of jobs that endanger children.

The government also intends to ban children from working in underground factories and places that expose them to dust and radioactivity. They would be prevented from assisting in the production of dangerous chemical substances and viruses, animal husbandry, construction, logging activities and shipping, he said.

Jobs involving prostitution and working in discotheques, massage parlors, or the promotion of alcohol or sex enhancers, would also be illegal for children, on the grounds that they are morally hazardous, he added.

"We have been drafting a decree to ban those jobs for children and we hope it will be signed by the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Jacob Nuwa Wea, next month," he told The Jakarta Post, after a meeting to discuss the draft was held.

Officials from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and activists from nongovernmental organizations, trade unions and the Indonesian Employer Association (Apindo) attended the meeting.

Law No. 13/2003 on manpower, prohibits the employment of children involving slavery, pornography and drugs, and jobs that pose a hazard to children's health, safety and morality.

The law also stipulates the government issue a ministerial decree to determine the type of jobs that endanger children's health, safety and morality.

It classifies children as people who have yet to reach the age of 18.

Under the law, a businessman is only allowed to employ children aged between 13 and 15 under strict guidelines -- including a maximum of three working hours per day, permission from their parents, and a daylight working period.

"All the banned jobs are in the formal sector, where companies are clearly identified. But we can not make a ruling that bans jobs in nonformal sectors to children, like begging or singing in the street, as that sector is out of our authority," Simanihuruk said.

Some 500,000 children are currently working in the formal sector in jobs that endanger their health, safety and morality, according to Simanihuruk's data.

However, the number will extend to 2.5 million children if children who work in the informal sector are considered.

Simanihuruk said that violations of the ministerial decree would be considered as breaches of the Manpower Law.

The law stipulates that any violation of the clause carries a maximum five year jail sentence or/and a maximum Rp 500 million (US$55,500) fine.

Simanihuruk, however, said that such a punishment would be the last resort in enforcing the decree and the law.

"An educative approach will lead the campaign to ban those kind of jobs for children," he added.