Government to review legislation regarding child labour
As the Guyana Government is currently moving to review national legislation and policy framework regarding child labour in the country, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warns that a staggeringly high number of children are still caught in hazardous work – some 115 million of the world’s 215 million child labourers– and calls for urgent action to halt the practice.
According to reports, the government with the view to making possible adjustments to strengthen enforcement mechanisms related to the issue is seeking a qualified consultant to conduct the review of legislation and policies. Tomorrow, countries will be observing “World Day Against Child Labour 2011” while the ILO calls for urgent action against hazardous forms of child labour.
The Guyana Government would be reviewing the existing legal and regulatory framework to analyse the gaps between the ILO Standard Conventions numbers 138 and 182, and the national legislation on child protection and education. The review is expected to commence this month, and is supposed to be completed within six weeks.
The project seeks to help reduce poverty by providing equitable access to basic education and skills development to children involved in child labour or at risk of being involved in such a situation. Bringing national laws into harmony with the ILO conventions is one of the first steps participating countries are expected to take under Tackling Child Labour Through Education (TACKLE).
The project was strategically developed through a partnership signed in 2004 between the ILO and the European Commission (EC) aimed at implementing a common mission to reduce poverty, and improve labour conditions in developing countries.
The overarching purpose is to accelerate efforts against increasing poverty to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The report, “Children in hazardous work: what we know, what we need to do,” cites studies from both industrialised and developing countries indicating that every minute of every day, a child labourer somewhere in the world suffers a work-related accident, illness or psychological trauma.
The report also says that although the overall number of children aged five to 17 in hazardous work declined between 2004 and 2008, the number aged 15-17 actually increased by 20 per cent during the same period, from 52 million to 62 million.
“Despite important progress over the last decade, the number of children in child labour worldwide – and particularly in hazardous work – remains high”, said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “Governments, employers and workers must act together to give strong leadership in shaping and implementing the policies and action that can end child labour. The persistence of child labour is a clear indictment of the prevailing model of growth. Tackling work that jeopardises the safety, health or morals of children must be a common and urgent priority.”
Last year, the ILO’s Global Report on child labour warned that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour were slowing down and expressed concern that the global economic crisis could “further brake” progress toward the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
One year on, the ILO remains extremely concerned with the impact of the crisis on children.
The report calls for a renewed effort to ensure that all children are in education at least until the minimum age of employment and for countries to establish a hazardous work list as required by ILO child labour Conventions. It also says that urgent action is needed to tackle hazardous work by children who have reached the minimum age but may be at risk in the workplace and calls for training and organizing such young workers so that they are aware of risks, rights and responsibilities in the workplace.
The report also says that exposure to hazards can have a particularly severe impact on children, whose bodies and minds are still developing late into teenage years. The report looks in detail at six economic sectors: crop agriculture, fishing, domestic service, mining and quarrying, and street and service industries.
The study notes that the children have higher rates of injury and death at work than adults, as shown by a range of research studies. More than over 60 per cent of children in hazardous work are boys while most of the decline in the total numbers of children in hazardous work is among girls.
Hazardous work is more commonly found in agriculture including fishing, forestry, livestock-herding and aquaculture in addition to subsistence and commercial farming.
However, in Guyana, Government embarked on the TACKLE project to reduce truancy and increase school attendance. Last year, several truancy campaigns were held in various communities to investigate whether children were suffering because of child labour.
The United States Trafficking In Persons (TIP) 2010 Report stated that the U. S. Department of Labour withdrew 984 children from employment in logging, sawmilling, fishing, hazardous farming, factory work, mining, and freight handling from 2005 to 2009.
However, the Guyanese authorities have since refuted and condemned this claim. The Guyanese officials have also challenged those in Washington to produce evidence of child labour in Guyana and proof that it removed 984 children from exploitative situations here.