Stakeholders join forces to stop child labour

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Celebrating National Day against Child Labour, Labour Minister Nelisiwe Mildred Oliphant, together with delegations from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), business, civil society and organized labour on Thursday visited the Mopani District Municipality in Limpopo, where she addressed school children from neighbouring farms, teachers and their parents.

The meeting was aimed at educating stakeholders about the plight of child labour and to highlight the country's commitment goal made in May 2010, when it became the signatory to the ILO Roadmap towards the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2016.

Oliphant said since the celebration of the day last year, progress had been made to address the scourge of child labour and significant progress had also been made since the first adoption of the Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA) in 2003.

Significant expansion of measures to relieve household poverty, which is the main driver of child labour, as well as strengthening of legislation to address child labour are some of the steps that have since been taken.

"The second phase of the CLPA adopted by Cabinet in February 2009 represents South Africa's proposed actions, enabling it to reach the 2016 target. It identifies a wide range of activities falling within the mandates of a wide range of government departments and agencies," Oliphant said.

She said most of the activities already formed part of government policy.

She also announced that the department had recently completed a consolidated progress report on the CLPA for Cabinet, which reveals that government and its partners have performed well in the areas of strengthening legislation, awareness raising, training and development of materials.

"In 2010, Statistics South Africa conducted a second Survey of Activities of Young People (SAYP) as an add-on to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. The data from this survey will be used to report against the indicators established for the monitoring of the CPLA, therefore the department is proud to release the analysis this study today."

While there have been some changes in the survey instrument over the years, Oliphant noted that analysis of the SAYP 2010 generally revealed patterns that were consistent with those shown by the two earlier surveys in 1999 and 2006.

The SAYP 2010 also suggests that while levels of engagement in market economic work were low and there seemed to be limited impact on schooling, South Africa still had issues to address in respect to child work and labour.

Although the numbers involved in child labour were relatively low and seem to have fallen over the years, 821 000 children are affected, Oliphant said, stressing that these children need action.

"The third phase of the CLPA, which is currently being drafted, will focus on service delivery and making a real difference in the lives of South Africa's children, and this day should serve as a sign of our commitment that we will do everything in our power to stop child labour.

"In addition, it will serve as a commitment not only of this government but by all of us that we will ensure our children remain in school, and that a child in need of care is provided for."

ILO Director Vick van Vuuren highlighted that 215 million children in the world were subjected to child labour and urged people to recognise the importance of children.

"We want to see that the youth of today are given an opportunity to become the leaders of tomorrow," said van Vuuren.

Tzaneen Chamber of Business representative, Nina van Heerden, pledged the organisation's commitment to get involved and spread the word to the community, but urged the department to give them a directive on the definition of child labour.

"We can't allow our children to be used and abused. We will advocate a strong message of adherence to the laws against child labour... Lets' join our hands and proclaim the stamping out of child labour in our province," said van Heerden.

COSATU warned that if the issue of child labour was not addressed, child labour would rise to among other things, not only domestic violence but HIV infection and rape.

"Policies and legislation need to address this issue with the seriousness it deserves," said COSATU.

South Africa has been requested by the ILO to lead the campaign against child labour to other neighbouring countries, where it will share the frustrations regarding the issue in a bid to eradicate child labour.

The neighbouring countries will include Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, where many of these countries' citizens work in South Africa.