SA sets to eradicate child labour in five years

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - The Department of Labour has vowed to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in the next five years.

Labour Minister Nelisiwe Oliphant made the announcement as she addressed hundreds of people who gathered for the National Child Labour Day commemorations in Stellenbosch on Monday. 

Oliphant spoke against the backdrop of her department's continued drive against child labour, which is backed by various conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

She said South Africa had "progressed considerably" towards the development of a framework to help fight child labour.

"Our labour legislation provides the basis for this fight when it outlawed child labour, while it permits certain categories and gives regulations under which this work can be performed. 

"The newly-promulgated Child Justice Act provides innovative ways in dealing with children who have been involved either in offences where they were used by adults to commit crime or in commercial sexual exploitation," said the minister.

Oliphant said with the help of the ILO's time-bound programme towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, the department ventured into areas "that may not necessarily be labour-related but with a specific focus on poverty alleviation."

The minister acknowledged the role of social partners, including organised agriculture, in fighting the scourge of child labour. Agriculture, according to the Department of Labour, is the largest sector with child labour practices, where most children worked as unpaid family members.

She said it was important to allow children to remain children. "This means allowing them to be at school and to play as part of their development."

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. A child 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. - BuaNews

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