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August 08, 2007

Consultative meeting on elimination of child labour in tobacco growing of Kazakhstan

Consultative meeting on elimination of child labour in tobacco growing of Kazakhstan took place in Almaty on July 19, 2007. Representatives of Agro-Industrial Workers’ Unions of Almaty region and Kyrgyz Republic, ILO/IPEC programme on the elimination of child labour and Philip Morris Kazakhstan (PMK) - the main buyer of tobacco leaves in the country – have considered their experience in implementation of programmes aimed against involving children in tobacco growing.

Considerable efforts are taken by all the parties: PMK agronomists work with farmers controlling situation in the fields; the company in co-operation with the state bodies and NGOs develops social programmes for farmers’ children both from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. For example, this year the company has financed three country camps for 600 children in Chylik region, the main tobacco-growing area in the country.

Mainly, the unions attempted to influence the situation in Kyrgyzstan, where tobacco is the main agricultural crop. Having gained positive results in Osh and Dzhalalabad regions, unions and tobacco companies of the region noticed the trend of migration of Kyrgyz farmers with their families to Kazakhstan. Their children migrate with them and start working there. The situation was considered by ILO/IPEC experts, and it was recognized that it was a migration of child labour that demanded new forms of international and social partnership of all parties interested in comprehensive decision of the problem.

The participants in the meeting noted that child labour is intolerable at all the stages of tobacco growing and processing. It was outlined that further discussions are necessary to develop co-operation between unions and the company; to consider the experience of tripartite Working group on llimination of child labour in tobacco growing in Kyrgyz Republic; to create, with the assistance of ECLT expertise and ILO, an economic and social mechanism providing that tobacco sector is completely child labour-free.