Charges made before UN International Labor Organization
[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for June 13. See original here. Pasta de Conchos, in the northern state of Coahuila, is the site of a coal mine in which an explosion in 2006 killed 65 miners. See more on the Pasta de Conchos mine here.]
Mexico City — Carlos Rodríguez Rivera, a member of the Organización Familia Pasta de Conchos (Pasta de Conchos Family Organization), submitted a charge to the [United Nations] International Labor Organization (ILO) that child labor in mines “for the purpose of lowering production costs” is common in Mexico.
While taking part in the World Day Against Child Labor, he explained that in the so-called pocitos [small pits] at coal mines children and youths who have not reached adult height are very useful because they can move through narrow spaces.
In addition, Rodríguez Rivera said, because of the shape of the mines it is easy to hide them when inspectors from the Secretariat of Labor appear and, of course, it is cheaper to hire them because they are paid less than adults.
Evidence of this is the case of 14-year-old Jesús Fernando Lara, who survived an accident in Pocito Tres of the Beneficios Internacionales del Norte mining operation in Sabinas, Coahuila, last May 3.
The young man, who has just turned 15, had one of his arms amputated as a result of the accident. In addition, they have proof that he was no longer studying mining as an occupation and that he was being paid 900 pesos a week.
Rodríguez Rivera also referred to the Ferber case, in which a mine was inspected in 2009. Several under-age miners worked there three years before being registered with social security at the age of 19.
He reported that the Organización Familia Pasta de Conchos has identified at least six locations inspected last year by the Secretariat of Labor and Social Security in which 15 youths between 14 and 17 years of age worked.
Carlos Rodríguez Rivera commented that all of this constitutes a flagrant violation of ILO Convention 182, which Mexico has ratified.