Bolivia’s child workers unite to end exploitation (The Guardian)
Shining shoes, mining and herding animals among the many jobs done by an estimated 750,000 children between five and 17
Rodrigo Medrano Calle is a Bolivian labour leader who meets and lobbies top government officials for his constituency’s rights. That’s not surprising in a country where pay is often low, working conditions harsh and unions play a powerful role in society. What’s unusual is that Rodrigo is just 14 years old, and his union’s members are all children.
“I started working when I was nine, and I’ve done everything, shining shoes, bus driver’s assistant, selling. I’ve gone through most of the jobs common for child and adolescent workers,” said Rodrigo, who now sells chewing gum and cigarettes in bars at weekends, making £4-£5 for a night’s work. “I lived on the street for a time and was going in the wrong direction, but then I found the movement, and it gave me a reason to be. I’m going to fight for mycompañeros’ rights, not just my own.”