Sunday, December 28, 2008

Child labour

In New Zealand, the youngest age you can be a paper runner is eleven. Sam, my money minded son couldn't wait to turn eleven so he could join the ranks of hundreds of little children delivering newspapers.

His was a free paper which some household would consider as junk mail. The week he turned eleven, there was a vacany for a paper runner for a loop for three roads couple of roads away. He was all excited and feeling like an entreprenuer, and emailed his application. The agent rang back to confirm his age and gave him his job.

On the first day, by seven am, three big stacks of paper arrived at the letter box. Each stack was too heavy for me to heave. But as a doting mum, I did it for him, I folded the paper into three folds so that they would fit into the letter boxes. And looking at the pile, I told him, I would help him do his run by driving him there, and deliver on the other side of the road for him.

It was a cold wet winter afternoon. It took us more than one and half hour each to finish the run. We were shouted at by those who didn't want this free paper. There were signs at some letter boxes which say, "No circular", but the news paper agent told us that his news paper were not circulars. We were barked at by dogs. At the end of the day, he got less than US$2.

I thought it was child exploitation. I told Sam, he had his go at business venture. That was the first and last time he was going to be a paper boy. He was very happy, he would rather play with his friends or at the computer.

These kids were considered contract workers, and not protected by the union. In another paper run, the company decided to use adult workers, depriving what little money the kids can earn.

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