Friday, June 22, 2012

Child labour in brick kiln

Umi Daniel

The brick kiln industry is today growing on a faster scale and contributing to the development of infrastructure growth in India. The sector today  employing thousands of men, women and children to produce bricks worth of billions. In the western part of Odisha, the labour unit for moulding and staking of bricks knows as Pathuria. Each labour unit consisting of two adult and a child often being recruited by the labour contractor to work in the brick kilns located in various parts of India. In a brick kiln the division of labour among adult men, women and minor children are tailored made. On the average, a group of three person make mold around 1000 to 1200 bricks a day and spread the bricks on the ground for sun baking. Now, the work of a child is very important to flip 1000 bricks twice in a day under testing condition.  At the time of recruitment of labour, if a family who donot have any young worker can hire a boy or a girl from their relative or from their neighbour  for a partly sum of money ranging between Rs. 5000 to Rs. 1000 to work in a brick kiln for 6-8months. 

In a recent study conducted by an international development agency in western Odisha suggest that, children between the age group of 6-14 constitute 41% of the population of brick kiln migrants. It clearly suggest that there are large number of children accompany their parents to provide helping hand, baby sitter, cooking and work in the brick kiln like adult labourer. Since brick kilns are often located far off city outskirts, the enforcement agency and government machinery's unable to prevent children working in the brick kiln. In some of the brick kiln in Hyderabad, children work with their parents late night. There are also instances where children as part of their family labour work with their own labour unit as unpaid worker. Work such as flipping of bricks for sun dying, making mud dough, mixing of soil, head loading of bricks and staking are generally performed by children along with the adult labourers.

In India the employment conditions and rights of migrant workers are theoretically protected and regulated, both as part of the general workforce and in recognition of their special characteristics as migrants. When it comes to regulate children's engagement in hazardous work, the implementation of all the child friendly laws are in question. The state is always on the denial and minimalistic approach of welfare and development for the poor and disadvantage people. Today scores of children in India are joining the informal labour force engaged in a wide range of sectors

In India we have a host of legislation and Act to provide protection of child rights. The right to Education Act mandates enrollment and retention of children into schools. The government of India has come up with the Child Right Commision at the central and state level. Many states including Andhrpradesh have started running schools for migrant children at work site and started retaining the children back in the village through establishing seasonal hostel. The Central government also has directed all the state to expand its flagship Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) to the migratory populations. However, there are lack of political will and administrative commitment to implement the programme in letter and spirit. 

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