In a recent opinion piece published by Postimees, Director General of the Ministry of Culture Paavo Nõgene found that the Labour Inspectorate's decision to put Eesti Ekspress' popular paper boy and girl summer job on hold was a misguided call.
Nõgene, who himself began his working career as a paper boy, found that while laws must be followed, overregulation and exaggeration were not good ideas.
He recalled how, when he worked as a paper boy, he would ride his bike to the Postimees office in Tartu early in the morning to pick up a batch of newspapers to sell for the day, with the option to go back and pick up more copies to sell if he liked. He also noted that nobody forced him to do this work. "It was my wish to spend time [doing this] during my city kid's summer, earning a little pocket money along the way," he said, adding that his parents gave him permission to work the paper route.
Commenting on what this job experience gave him, Nõgene said, "This gave me a certain sense of momentum, something to do — I didn't just hang out at some shopping mall or come up with ideas that may not have been the wisest." The experience also taught him that money doesn't simply grow on trees.
"Interesting — is there really no one who works at the Labour Inspectorate who hasn't started out as a paper boy or girl, or whose kid has wanted to do this?" he asked, highlighting the ubiquity of the summer job experience. Nõgene recommended seeking constructive solutions to working condition-related issues raised by the inspectorate rather than simply banning the popular schoolchildren's summer job.
"I am not convinced that a backpack in the fall is lighter than a pack of newspapers, which gets lighter by the hour," he said, adding that the summer job at least provides children with an experience and positive activity, rather than teaching them how to simply kill time.
This opinion piece was originally published by Postimees (link in Estonian) on June 6, 2017.
Editor: Aili Vahtla