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Preliminary study on the social aspects related to the brick production in El Algarrobal , Mendoza, Argentina . The case of child labor
Seminario; 4th International Seminar in Social LCA; 2014
Purpose. Mendoza is the fourth brick producing area in Argentina. The district of El Algarrobal in the department of Las Heras has the largest number of local artisanal brick producers, which due to weather conditions, work seasonally. Since its beginning in the 30´s, the activity has increased production levels according to the growing demand but technology has not being incorporated accordingly. The bricks are made by hand in very poor technical and human conditions. This work is part of a comprehensive study of the sustainability of the brick activity. This paper focuses in the subcategory of impact Child labor in the category Human Rights for the production of bricks for construction a 1m2 wall. In later stages, it is planned to extend the study to other subcategories. The argentinian law prohibits any kind of employment of people under age of 16, whether or not a contractual employment relationship exists, even if it is paid or unpaid.Method. Two indicators were proposed. Firstly was "Time spent on the brick activity" in order to know the hours spent by children working with their parents in the furnaces, and secondly was ?education level" to measure the degree of formal education they have received. In the absence of secondary information, it was decided to conduct a survey in schools in the area. 110 students between the ages of 13 and 17 years were interviewed. The design of the questionnaire included questions requesting information from the whole family.Results. Surveys of children whose parents worked in the brick production were considered. The results obtained for the first indicator showed that 34 % of the respondents work at least one hour per week and that none of their siblings between ages or 4 and 16 years (National Law No. 26390, ILO Convention 182) has a productive work. While for the indicator ?education level " for children from 4 to 16 years an enrollment of 100% in school was obtained. The first indicator was insufficient to determine whether the work performed was in the brick activity or not, while for the second it is not possible to know if the school level was completed. In addition, validation of these results was negative and they are not consistent with the observed reality. Interviews to experts and a UNICEF study on child labor carried out in the brick activity in El Algarrobal indicate the existence of children with very low school level and doing heavy work even in extreme weather conditions.Conclusions. This work showed that although the defined indicators are suitable for evaluating the contribution of child labor during the life cycle of the production of bricks for building walls, it is required to expand the universe of study because the amount and quality of information obtained was not as it was expected. It is necessary to make a new survey to obtain data directly from children implicated in the activity. It would also be important to incorporate new indicators to evaluate the impact in order to reflect in a more accurately way the reality. It was suggested the inclusion of the role that ?housewives girls " have in the subcategory ?child labor?. The challenge is to reach most of the children involved. Currently efforts are being made to conduct a second survey in a primary school in the area.