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Unions call on Libs, SA Best to throw support behind new child labour laws

February 10, 2018

SA Unions is calling on the Liberals and SA Best to commit to supporting new child labour laws being proposed by the State Government.

State Secretary Joe Szakacs says South Australia has congratulated the Labor Government for its commitment to tackling the exploitation of young people in the workforce.

“South Australia currently doesn’t have any child labour laws, which means there is no minimum age at which a child can legally begin work (although those under 16 cannot work during school hours).

“That means there are no protections for children who are exposed to unsafe work, humiliated, harassed, degraded or ripped-off – all forms of child abuse.

“Young people are the most vulnerable and most exploited group of workers in Australia. They are injured more often than their older colleagues, and often face the challenges of combining work with study and training commitments.

“The union movement sees these issues first hand. SA Unions’ Young Workers Legal Service has over the years had complaints from children as young as 13 years of age who have experienced sexual harassment, bullying and the underpayment of wages.

“We wouldn’t put up with these things happening to a child in their own home or at school – they shouldn’t be exposed to such abuse in their workplace either.”

“In recent years, the State Government has strengthened the child protection system in South Australia, which we fully support, but there are no systems in place to monitor or protect children from employers.

“We particularly welcome the moved to stop any employers with a history of abusing young workers from employing young people.

“And we don’t believe that children under 18 should be working in high-risk construction work, or in jobs with hazardous risks, like asbestos removal.

“These children are not low-cost, disposable labour and should never be treated that way."