Domestic Transport

Children's rights

Child labour in domestic transport is common in many tourist destinations. Numerous children and young people (mostly boys) work as informal helpers for transportation companies or family businesses or are directly recruited by drivers.

While some children have to work in the transportation sector to support their families, others have left their families for various reasons and work to cover their own expenses.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) differentiates between legitimate child work, which often describes children’s or adolescents’ support in a family business that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, and unacceptable child labour, which deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, interferes with their schooling, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.

In the transportation industry, child helpers are often required to carry out their tasks every day, without weekends or other rest time. Being at the very end of the staff structure, child helpers often receive extremely low wages.

Working in the transportation industry, children live at a high risk of being involved in an accident. Being in constant contact with customers, children are particularly vulnerable to verbal, physical or sexual violence and harassment. In some countries, young workers in the transport industry (mostly young boys) have migrated from villages to cities with the hope of better prospects or sometimes because of family conflicts or other factors. They do not have a social network in the cities and are completely dependent on the drivers / owners of the transportation business they are employed by.

Child labour in transport: Nepal
Child workers: Bangladesh
Child labour in transport: Nepal

In 2018, the Nepali Government launched a campaign to end child labour in the public transport sector. The programme includes sensitization measures, public awareness programmes, and directly taking children out of transport work and enabling them to go to school. Furthermore, high fines have been introduced to discourage transportation businesses from employing children (see links below).

According to a study by World Education carried out in 2009 “children of the transport sector usually work more than 12 hours a day. (…) By this criterion, child transportation workers are categorized as falling under the worst forms of child labor in Nepal. Children are both physically and mentally abused and harassed while they are at work. Many of the young boys report have been sexually abused. They are quite often abused by drivers / owners. Traffic police often beat child “Khalasi” (helpers or conductors) because they do not understand the traffic signals and rules when they first enter into this work.” 

Child workers: Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) conducted a Baseline Survey on working children in the road transport sector in 2003 in order to have reliable numbers for their planned programmes and for other institutions working to combat child labour in the country. The survey was part of the framework of the National Child Labour Survey (NCLS) 2002-03.

The nation-wide data revealed that 85,619 child workers engaged in road transport activity across 9,873 locations/sites across the country. The road transport sector is predominant in urban areas and only male children were found to be engaged in this sector.

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Take action

Policy and process

Supplier assessment

  • Assess the working conditions of young workers/helpers on coaches working on behalf of the company.

Training and capacity building

  • Train procurement staff on the issue of young workers / helpers (in the transport industry).
  • Provide training to transportation companies / suppliers on the special protection required for young workers/helpers.

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site. 

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.