ILO boss laments increasing cases of child labour, says 152m are victims globally
Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Guy Ryder, has said that about 152 million children between the ages of 5 And 17 are trapped in incidences of child labour across the world.
Speaking at an event to mark the World Day against child labour at the ongoing 107th session of the International Labour conference in Geneva, Ryder said world leaders must take steps to address the rout cause of child labour if incidences of child labour are to reduce across the world.
The ILO Director General said between 2012 and 2016, there was “almost no reduction in the number of children aged 5 to 11 in child labour, and the number of these most vulnerable, youngest children in hazardous work actually increased.
“These children typically begin child labour at the age of six or seven and they commonly perform hazardous work as they get older.”
while calling for urgent action to tackle the economic root causes of child labour, Ryder said attention must be paid not only to global supply chains, but also to unpaid family workers in agriculture.
He said “the challenge is not just about globally-traded garments, tobacco and cocoa; it is also about local markets for sorghum, millet, bricks – and it’s about domestic work as well,” he said, ahead of the World Day against Child Labour, marked on June 12.
Ryder said the 152 million children in child labour worldwide is partly because of the child labour in agriculture – which is mostly unpaid family work, which has been on the increased.
The event in Geneva also marked the 20th anniversary of the Global March against Child Labour, which culminated in June 1998, when hundreds of marchers, including children, took to the stage at the International Labour Conference, where delegates paved the ground for the adoption in 1999 of ILO Convention No. 182 on “Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour.”
Speaking at the event, an Indian children’s rights activist and Nobel peace prize laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, who had led the Global March against Child Labour, in June 1998, told the panel that much still remains to be done to eliminate child labour across the world..
he said “If the children are still trapped in the international supply chains, if the children are still enslaved, if the children are still sold and bought like animals – sometimes for less than the price of animals – to work in the fields and farms, and shops and factories, or for households as domestic workers, this is a blot on humanity”.
General Secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), Sue Longley, stressed the importance of keeping a strong focus on agriculture, which is where about 70 per cent of child labour is.
On his part, Nazrene Mannie, from the Board of Business Unity in South Africa, highlighted the difficulty of tackling child labour when it takes place in family farms or enterprises, often hidden from public view.
This year’s World Day against Child Labour also seeks to promote safety and health for young workers. Speaking on that topic, Mariam Kamissoko, of the National Social Security fund in Cote d’Ivoire, pointed out that the rate of accidents is higher among youth than among older workers.