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Cafe In Australia Under Fire, Accused Of Employing Children And Promoting Child Labour

The New South Wales government is reportedly considering making the minimum age to work 15 or 13 for "light work," with certain exemptions for kids under 13.

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Digital Desk

Image: Unspalsh

There has been outrage over reports that a small-town cafe in New South Wales, Australia, hires kids as young as 11, according to The Guardian. It is noteworthy that the kids receive reward wages for doing the dishes, making jams and relishes, and serving clients. In New South Wales, there is no set minimum age for employment, although applicants for tax file numbers must be at least 11 years old.

The announcement coincides with calls for a national minimum age for child labour. The government is reportedly considering making the minimum age to work 15 or 13 for "light work," with certain exemptions for kids under 13. Notably, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) recently covered a cafe with 100 employees, the majority of which are young people in their school years. 

'We needed to build our team from the ground up', say the cafe owners

Huw and Juliet Robb, the proprietors of Long Track Pantry in the small Australian town of Jugiong, claimed that they had a hiring problem when they first launched the cafe a few years ago. Staffing the industrial kitchen was difficult because the town only has 200 residents. "We realised we were unlikely to attract skills and talent out of the city into a regional place like Jugiong, so we needed to build our team from the ground up," Robb told ABC News.

Several people on social media defended the cafe and claimed that the children were being paid award wages, while others attacked the decision. It is noteworthy that many states and regions in the nation have laws and procedures in place to discourage child labour, some of which do not specify a minimum age, The Guardian reported. 

One user who has been a frequent visitor to the cafe slammed the cafe's decision to hire children. She tweeted, "Understandably, I've stopped at this cafe and purchased many of their products. Blissfully unaware that I'm supporting child labour. [Long Track Pantry in Jugiong employing 11 yr olds in their kitchens.]"

Another user supported the decision of the cafe to hire children and praised the cafe by calling it a "fantastic enterprise." He tweeted, "Yay! This is common sense challenging political correctness: we need more of it. I got my first job when I was 9, and it was a great learning experience. The Long Track Pantry is a fantastic enterprise: good to see these kids becoming part of it."

2,14,500 minors under the age of 15 were discovered to be legally employed in June of last year, according to a survey on employment and workplace relations. The International Labour Organization (ILO) convention on the minimum age for admission to employment was recommended for ratification by Australia in March by a legislative committee, according to The Guardian. 

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