Exposed to many dangers posed by heavy physical tasks, toxics from metal ores and unsafe transfers to and from a barge stationed in the middle of the sea, “Jodel” (not his real name), 15, together with five other teenagers work most of the day in a mining company in Surigao del Sur, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) correspondent in CARAGA region reported this August. As a barge operator in Clarence Ty Pimentel Sr. Construction and Mining Corporation (CTP-CMC), Jodel, and his co-workers lift a 500-kg waterproof tarpaulin to cover a barge loaded with nickel ores. Such task in itself is physically-demanding and can cause serious physical strain to young bodies.

Moreover, risks and hazards are increased as no protective equipment, not even life-jackets, are provided by the company in of case sea accidents. Jodel and other barge operators also face regular danger as they cross the sea using only a tiny boat to get to the mineral-filled barge in the middle in the sea from the pier. Other than the measly wage of P268, Jodel and his co-workers in CTP-CMC, do not receive other benefits nor any form of security in case of an accident.

Worse still, a percentage of their earnings reportedly go to their subcontractor, Charlita Cabadonga, who is also the village chief of Adlay, Carrascal Surigao del Sur. Cabadonga also discourages the child workers to participate in and join a union. CTP-CMC was founded by Clarence Ty Pimentel Sr.  in 2006 and currently employs 2,000 workers. It has 12 subcontractors mostly headed by the proprietors’ son, Mr. Clarence Ty Pimentel Jr.

Meanwhile, CTUHR slammed the continuing exposure of children below 18 years old to hazardous work especially in highly lucrative industries like mining and plantations. According to the group, low-wages, contractualization, and lack of livelihood for families are persisting problems in mining and plantation areas pushing children  to work even in hazardous and difficult jobs to augment family incomes. In 2012, CTUHR’s study, Children of the Sunshine Industry, revealed that one out of four workers in palm oil plantations in CARAGA region are children below 18 years old. Currently, CTUHR is also a partner of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education Research (EILER) in the Bata-Balik Eskwela, a project funded by the European Union, which aims to bring child laborers to school through alternative schooling, livelihood, and public advocacy.###