A legal proposal to lower the minimum working age from 18 to 16 has won the support of politicians and business representatives.
The initiative targets rural areas where teenagers could take up low risk work in agriculture to reduce the attraction of organized crime.
The lower house of Congress already approved an initiative for the age change, which has passed to the upper house.
The president of the National Agricultural Council (CNA), Juan Cortina Gallardo, said that putting teenagers in low risk jobs would limit the temptations of criminal work. “We are in favor of legislating on the matter … allowing these young people to work in the sector, obviously delimiting their work to activities that do not represent a danger. Unfortunately, young people look to illicit activities for sources of income to get ahead,” he said.
Senator Ricardo Monreal said barring access to work opportunities was causing damage.
“We have to amend this law so that young people can be employed … before the age of 18, which is currently forbidden … It is an inadequate law, it is out of place and it pushes young people to, unfortunately, be employed in criminal activities because they do not have access to the labor market. It is a big problem,” he said.
Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said that the change would bring economic benefits.
“We have [challenges] in front of us in terms of inflation, in terms of the need for the agricultural sector to continue strengthening and to continue creating better working conditions because the labor force is what gives fundamental importance to the countryside,” she said.
Clouthier added that lowering the age to 16 would see Mexico comply with international labor laws: “it’s not only because we believe in the legislation and respect it, but also to be able to assume international commitments and be able to take care of our population,” she said.
With reports from Milenio