FUNDING ANTI-CHILD LABOR FIGHT
WASHINGTON — The Labor Department is adding ammunition to the campaign to eradicate child labor around the globe.
The agency is contributing $756,000 to a monitoring program in Pakistan targeting child labor in the production of soccer balls, the agency announced Tuesday.
The anti-child labor push follows the creation of child-free soccer ball production facilities by Nike and Reebok after media reports revealed that youngsters were being used to sew ball covers. The Labor grant will be part of a $1.31 million industry-wide factory monitoring program that will also focus on subcontractors that supply ball covers. Local ball manufacturers, the Soccer Industry Council of America and UNICEF are also funding the two-year program.
The International Labor Organization estimates 7,000 children work in Pakistan’s soccer ball industry. About 75 percent of the world’s handmade soccer balls are made there.
“The cooperative involvement of Pakistan’s industry, U.S. importers and international organizations in this project is indicative of the depth of concern over exploitative child labor,” said Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, in a statement.
In the past, Labor has contributed to other anti-child labor programs sponsored by the ILO, including one in the Bangladesh garment industry that is taking children out of factories and educating them.