From LABOR-L@YORKU.CA Tue Apr 3 13:37:58 2001
ICFTU launches a new global campaign to Stop Child Labour
ICFTU Online..., 3 April 2001
Brussels, March 29 2001 (ICFTU OnLine): Governments and employers world-wide will be pressured into taking stronger steps to eradicate child labour or else face international criticism, says the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
The Brussels-based labour group is launching a major two-year campaign on March 30 in a fresh impetus to stop child labour that will involve all levels of the trade union movement and friendly non-governmental organisations.
"Despite numerous promises by governments and multinationals to stop child labour, to this day 250 million children are working, 125 million of them have never seen inside a class room, and while at work a frightening number of working children are affected by numerous hazards. The situation must be brought to halt", says Bill Jordan, General Secretary of the ICFTU.
The ICFTU's 221 affiliates worldwide, and the International Trade Secretariats representing the different industrial sectors will put pressure on governments and multinationals to tackle the most hazardous and exploitative forms of child labour as a priority. In a wide range of sectors such as agriculture and domestic service children have to work in appalling conditions risking their health as a result of long working hours, and operating dangerous machinery.
"We have had enough of words. We want action", continues Bill Jordan.
The ICFTU's Campaign will mobilise action on all fronts: trade unions from Brazil to Malawi, from Lithuania to Bangladesh, will pressure governments to enforce laws on education and to ratify and fully apply ILO Conventions 138 and 182 (on the minimum age to work and on the worst forms of child labour) and to report on their full respect. Companies identified as resorting to child labour will be exposed and called on to abandon the practice at once, and pay for the full rehabilitation and education of the child labourers. International institutions will be invited to adopt non-child labour clauses in their programmes and to join the efforts by the ILO to address the scourge.
The ICFTU's affiliates and the ITSs will kick off the campaign by sending a petition around the world (http://www.icftu.org/petition.asp?Name=childlabour), calling on governments, employers and international institutions to take measures to get children out of work and into school. The petition will be presented to representatives of governments at the UN General Assembly Special Session on the Rights of the Child in September 2001.
Sectors to be targeted include: agriculture, where more than two-thirds (70%) of all working children are found, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels, domestic and other "personal services". Campaign Teams on all five continents will work closely together with the ILO and NGO's and build community alliances to fight child labour. To assess the impact of the campaign, the ICFTU will carefully monitor their work.
The Campaign will also focus on providing decent jobs for adults and respecting the right of workers to organise unions and bargain for better wages and conditions.
"While millions of children are working, millions of adults are unemployed or do not earn enough to make a living. That is why we are convinced that one way to stop child labour is to ensure that their parents have access to decent jobs, decent wages and that their right to join and form unions is respected", added Mr Jordan.
The ICFTU will produce a wide range of campaign materials which will be available on its website (http://www.icftu.org), including posters, leaflets, the petition and various publications and surveys on child labour.
For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 476 62 10 18.