The world community has committed itself to the eradication of child labour, starting with ‘the elimination of all worst forms of child labour by 2016’. Reality is that over the last decades hardly any progress has been made. The problem of child labour is linked to other forms of inhuman working conditions, like slavery, bonded labour and forced labour, conforming the bottom of the labour markets, that are characterised by wide spread substandard and exploitative working conditions.
Where we find child labour
In her programmes Solidaridad is confronted with child labour, in the agricultural sector as well as in the mining sector and garment industry. From child migrants, as an invisible group of children deprived of all rights, working on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast, to child factory workers in India or Bangladesh with long daily working hours. From slavery to bonded labour, like the sugar workers in the Dominican Republic who have no freedom of movement because their identity papers are withheld from them, or because they are bound with fraudulent debts from which they cannot escape.
Position on child labour
Solidaridad Network condemns child labour (as defined by ILO convention 138 on minimum age for work) and worst forms of child labour (as defined by ILO Convention 182) in the strongest possible ways. Child labour destroys the future of children.
Trafficking of children is a criminal activity that should be prosecuted and brought to court.
For children school is the best place to work.
At the heart of a solution: a living income earned by parents and access to education
We believe parents that earn a good income and accessible schools with good education are at the heart of a solution for child labour. Many stakeholders in society can and should contribute to prevent and fight child labour in an effective way including governments, companies and non-governmental organizations.
Sustainable economic development can make sure parents earn a better income and have means to send their children to school.
Good governance by governments can build education systems that prepare children for their future role in society and the economy of a country.
Child work is not child labour
Not all forms of work by children are bad. For instance many children around the world help their parents on a family farm after school or during holidays. It can help them to learn about their future life as a farmer. Child work becomes child labour once it keeps children away from school or if hazardous work is carried out by children.
Modernization of the economy will prevent child labour
Substandard working conditions are often related to unskilled and unproductive agricultural and industrial processes. Cheap labour reflects low productivity, low margins and low levels of mechanization. Work processes which require higher levels of education, skills and experience are per definition adult labour. It is the cheap labour where child labour finds its fertile ground. By focusing on the increase of productivity, quality of produce and margins, combined with sensitisation of the differences between child work and child labour, this process of modernization could be linked directly to the outfacing of child labour and other forms of bonded labour.
Address the problem of child labour in its full complexity
Recognition of the problem in its full complexity helps to find a shared solution amongst all relevant stakeholders. Denying the occurrence of child labour or underrating the complexity hinders a solution. Root causes like poverty and weak governance cannot be taken away all in a sudden. No single tool, actor or activity can prevent and fight the occurrence of child labour on its own.
What Solidaridad Network does
The focus of Solidaridad Network on building sustainable supply chains where farmers, miners and workers can earn a decent living, is the main contribution of Solidaridad to prevent child labour. Modernisation of a sector is a precondition for the eradication of child labour.
For Solidaridad Network a flanking policy to give children access to school is needed and requires permanent cooperation with governments and CSO's, which have a focus on education.