UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (APP): With some 168 million children
working in various sectors globally, the fight against child labour
requires coherent policy packages to support legislation focused on
quality education, social protection and decent jobs for parents, the International Labour Organization (ILO), a UN agency, said Sunday.
“That child labour has no place in well-functioning and well-regulated markets is evident. But the reality is that today, child labour remains widespread in supply chains,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a statement to mark the World Day against Child Labour.
This year’s focus for the Day – which is observed annually on
June 12 – is on child labour and supply chains.
Ryder, in his message, underscored that of the total number of
children in child labour, 85 million are in hazardous work. Child labour
is also found in other supply chains, from agriculture – 99 million –
to mining, from manufacturing to tourism, producing goods and services consumed by millions every day.
The Director-General also noted that child labour occurs predominantly in the rural and informal economies, beyond the reach of labour inspection, the protection of workers’ organizations or the governance benefits of employers’ and producers’ organizations.
“It’s not just the lack of institutional protection in the rural and informal economies that increases the risk of child labour in supply chains; in household production and on family farms, children are often highly vulnerable because parents’ incomes are insufficient or because
small family enterprises and farms cannot afford to replace child labour
by hiring adults and youth,” Ryder said.
“Piece rate production increases the risk with child labour helping parents to make up quotas and to assure family survival when
parents are not earning a living wage,” he added.
The Director-General emphasized that while global supply chains
can offer opportunities for inclusive development for supplier firms, workers and host countries, targeted action is needed to assure just outcomes.
“Beyond child labour in high profile, global supply chains, many
child labourers are also found in supply chains producing for local and national consumption and they must not be ignored,” he said.
“There are encouraging signs of a will to act and to prevent
child labour, to achieve greater transparency and visibility along
supply chains as well as more effective enforcement of relevant laws,”
The Director-General highlighted that ILO’s Minimum Age
Convention, 1973 (No 138) has been ratified by 168 member states and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No 182) by 180 – near universal ratification.
In addition, Ryder said that companies are increasingly exploring
how they might contribute to eliminating child labour by strengthening
the capacity of enterprises throughout their supply chains – a complex
task requiring partnerships involving Governments, industry peers and employers’ and workers’ organizations.
In that regard, he noted that forums such as the ILO’s Child Labour Platform allow enterprises to share good practices and develop new
models for collaboration. “Global Framework Agreements between global trade union federations and multinational companies are one expression of global cooperation through social dialogue. At the grass-roots of value chains too, rural workers’ and informal workers’ organizations are expanding innovative approaches to strengthen collective representation,” the Director-General said.
Ryder also highlighted that the ILO’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy of 1977 recognizes the role of enterprises in the elimination of child
labour. With a focus on development and strengthening of enterprise
capacity and social dialogue, the declaration holds “great potential
to guide action against child labour,” he said.
He also stressed that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reaffirms the goal of ending child labour.
“Acting together, it is within our means to make the future of work
a future without child labour,” the Director-General concluded.