Child labour in the spotlight

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pretoria - As the country prepares to mark National Child Labour Day on Monday, 4 April, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is set to bring illegal child labour practices to the nation's attention.

The main event, to be held in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, will build on the minister's campaign to support the International Labour Organisation's efforts to end the practice and call for decisive action by governments and stakeholders around the world.

Oliphant has fingered the agriculture sector as the largest culprit involved in child labour practices, where most underage children work as unpaid family members.

"Child labour is a scourge that cries out to heaven for decisive action by all roleplayers in the labour market and the world over," said Oliphant.

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, it is a criminal offence to employ a child younger than 15 years, except in the performing arts with a permit from the department.

Children aged 15 to 18 may not be employed to do work inappropriate for their age, or work that places them at risk.

The Act further states that any work performed by a child should not be exploitative, hazardous or otherwise inappropriate for the child's age, detrimental to the child's schooling or to the child's social, physical, mental, spiritual or moral development.

About 200 school children, aged between 10 and 14, and key stakeholders in the child protection fraternity are expected to attend the event, where Oliphant will deliver her address.