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2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Trinidad and Tobago

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Trinidad and Tobago, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748b328.html [accessed 21 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 1992, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago developed a National Plan of Action that provided assistance to children in especially difficult circumstances. The government has also adopted an education policy that aims to promote secondary school attendance and improve educational opportunities.3597

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 1.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were engaged in paid work. Slightly more than one-half of the children in this age group were estimated to perform domestic work for less than 4 hours per day; less than 1 percent spent more than 4 hours per day on such tasks. Overall, 4.1 percent of children were estimated to be currently working.3598 Children are also engaged in agriculture, scavenging, loading, unloading and stocking goods, landscaping and gardening, car repair and washing, construction, fishing,3599 and begging.3600 Children also work as handymen, shop assistants,3601 or street vendors.3602 There have been reports of child prostitution and of children involved in drug trafficking.3603

Primary education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 12.3604 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 101.6 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 92.9 percent.3605 In 2000, 89.3 percent of primary school-age children were estimated to be attending school.3606 Parts of the public school system do not meet the needs of the school age population due to overcrowding, substandard physical facilities, and occasional classroom violence by gangs. The government has committed resources to building new facilities and expanding access to free education.3607

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment is set at 12 years. Children between the ages of 12 to 14 may work only in family businesses. Children under the age of 18 may work only during daylight hours, however, children ages 16 to 18 may work at night in sugar factories.3608 There are no laws prohibiting trafficking,3609 but the Criminal Code prohibits child prostitution.3610 The use of children under the age of 16 in pornography is also prohibited.3611

The Ministry of Labor and Small and Micro-Enterprises and the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services are responsible for enforcing child labor provisions.3612 Enforcement is weak because there are no established mechanisms for receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints. The Ministry of Labor is seeking assistance from the ILO to strengthen enforcement mechanisms.3613

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has not ratified ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.


3597 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 2243, October 2002.

3598 Children who are currently working in some capacity include children who have performed any paid or unpaid work for someone who is not a member of the household, who have performed more than four hours of housekeeping chores in the household, or who have performed other family work. Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2000 -Trinidad and Tobago, UNICEF, 2000, 36-37 [cited September 1, 2002]; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/trinidad/trinidad.htm. An ILO-IPEC rapid assessment in 2002 found that approximately 4.1 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years are currently engaged in paid or unpaid work on the island of Trinidad. See U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 2243.

3599 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 2243.

3600 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Practices- 2001: Trinidad and Tobago, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 3055-57, Section 5 [cited November 1, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/ wha/8233.htm. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards in Trinidad and Tobago, Geneva, November 12-13, 1998, [cited September 2, 2002]; available from http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=990916172&Language=EN.

3601 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 2243.

3602 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Trinidad and Tobago, 3055-57, Section 5. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards.

3603 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604, September 27, 2001.

3604 Ibid.

3605 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

3606 Government of Trinidad and Tobago, MICS 2000, 21.

3607 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Trinidad and Tobago, 3055-57, Section 5.

3608 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards.

3609 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Trinidad and Tobago, 3057-58, Section 6f.

3610 Article 17 of the Criminal Code, as cited in U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604.

3611 Protection Project, "Trinidad and Tobago," in Human Rights Report on Trafficking of Persons, Especially Women and Children, March 2002, [cited September 2, 2002]; available from http://209.190.246.239/ver2/cr/tt.pdf.

3612 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604.

3613 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Trinidad and Tobago, 3055-57, Section 6d.

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