Wednesday, June 12, 2019
This year (2019) is an extraordinary year from every aspect of Labour-Management Relations within the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the Caricom Family and the wider world at large. Whether it is in the realm of Industrial Relations, Occupational Safety and Health, Trafficking in Persons, Social Security or Child Labour from any of those stand points, this year is a significant one.
The significance is rooted in the fact that 100 years ago (1919) the International Labour Organization (ILO) birthed the initiative of advancing social justice and promoting decent work for all.’
I am compelled to stress on the concept of Decent Work which rests on four important pillars and without which the elimination of Child Labour would be impossible. In other words, if we as a nation, are to successfully purge our Society of this scourge we must embrace Decent Work both as a philosophy and as a culture.
The four pillars mentioned above are: –
With these four foundation pillars in focus, I find it necessary to highlight the essential parameters of Decent Work as adumbrated by the International Labour Organization.
“According to the International Labour Organization, Decent Work involves opportunities for work that are productive and deliver a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decision that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all men and women.”
I have decided to refer to the foregoing, because it is within the framework of Decent Work that our commitment to eliminate Child Labour is located.
Our Country has recently implemented a Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) which was endorsed and is being supported by the other Social Partners being Labour and Management. But the DWCP is not the only construct which encapsulates the eradication of Child Labour.
It is impacted by the Manifesto of APNU+AFC Party and Government, the National Budget – Past and Present – and our commitment to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which collectively forms the cornerstone of National and Human development.
For easy implementation and management, the Sustainable Development Goals have been broken down into sub-goals. The elimination of Child Labour is positioned with Goal # 8 as Goal # 8.7 which reads as follows:
“Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced Labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour including the recruitment and use of Child Labour and by 2025 and Child Labour in all its forms.”
We have recently recommitted to this ideal but our desire to remove this impediment to our total development was registered since 1966 when we ratified Convention # 29 which abhors Forced Labour.
During the period 1966-1999 (33) years, several pieces of Legislations beginning with the National Constitution which promotes the elimination of Child Labour, were enacted. Those include: –
In addition to those Laws, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana has in 2001 ratified Convention # 182 which speaks to the Worst Forms of Child Labour which has Child Pornography and Child Prostitution as variants thereof. The fact that our Country is one of the few in the Caribbean which has ratified that Instrument serves to show how determined we are in the fight against this evil.
The theme under which World Day Against Child Labour is being observed this year is “Children shouldn’t work in Fields but on dreams”.
This certainly is an admirable theme from an international stand point, but we in Guyana respectfully submit that Children shouldn’t be working in Fields, Factories, nor Offices. In fact, children should not be working at all.
The evil consequences of Child Labour are well documented and can be summarized as Human Rights Violations.
It is therefore not without significance that we have established as a constitutional body the Rights of the Child Commission under Article 212 (1) (d) of the Constitution. The mandate of that of the Commission is to “promote initiatives that reflect and enhance the well-being and rights of the child”. Obviously, the tenets of Child Labour collide with those Rights and therefore that phenomenon must be eliminated from our “Republic” at all cost.
Much of the available literature including the recently implemented National Policy, have summarized that this man-made evil which may be characterized as a national disaster operating and functioning in stealth mode is driven by economics, greed and a loss of moral compass.
As a matter of fact, I wish to submit that greed and the profit which lie at the foundation of Child Labour are not discussed widely enough so that those who stand to benefit and are benefiting the most from this evil can be exposed.
In an exclusive interview with the Nikkei Asaian Review Journal, the 2014 Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Kailash Satyarthi who a renowned Crusader against Child Labour confirmed that greed is a huge contributor to Child Labour. In response to a question, he said: And I Quote:
“the greed of Companies is the biggest Pull Factor for Child Labour. Push Factors are poverty, ignorance, social discrimination, gender bias and lack of opportunities, lack of basic amenities and lack of livelihood. But the Pull Factors include, first of all, the greediness of employers; secondly, employers; look for the cheap docile labour and children are the cheapest and most docile.
Parents and Children have no options in such cases, so when the Push Factors and Full Factors are combined together children are the worst victims of the situation”. End of Quote
These remarks are quite clear and helpful in identifying the Push and Pull Factors which may be classified as the Axis of Child Labour. What is even more revealing is the fact that some employers seek to maximize their profits through the utilization of the cheapest source of Labour i.e. Child Labour.
At the risk of being repetitive I must reiterate that the greed factor needs to be highlighted so that those who benefit from this phenomenon can be exposed and brought to justice in the most condign manner.
I have noted that we have in place a number of key and Critical Legislations which support the fight against this form of Modern Slavery, but it is only recently that we were able to develop and launch a National Policy on this most sensitive issue.
The Policy which embraces all of the relevant legislation and international instruments identifies the causes, effects and consequences which eventually inflict great harm on a Society and Nation.
Within the realm of effects, it is reported that the mental, physical, social and psychological injuries associated with Child Labour can endure for a life time. It is noted in our National Policy that it creates an effective poverty trap which can be crippling to a Child’s education, growth and development.
You will recall that earlier I identified ignorance as one of the Push Factors, which is associated with Child Labour. Comrades, that is just another way of saying that a lack of education can lead to Child Labour.
At this juncture I wish to speak directly to school children of all ages. Do not yield to the temptations which are associated with money. Do not believe that it is a good thing to leave school early and enter the world of work before you are an adult. Do not believe in the false notion that you can get rich quick.
Children should have a smooth and exciting transition from school to the world of work where they can begin to live their dreams. Children’s dreams should include becoming professional in the fields of Agriculture. IT, Medicine, Law, Engineering. They can best do so and live rich, rewarding, fulfilling and healthy lives if they acquire a rounded education.
At the same time. Parents and Guardians must ensure that they play their part by encouraging their children to be children, enjoy their childhood days and do not venture into the world of work too early because of economic circumstances.
I THANK YOU
Oct 23, 2019Author Details Editorial Editor email email@example.com Georgetown, Guyana, Wednesday, October 23, 2019 – President David Granger has returned to Guyana last night from Cuba having completed a scheduled medical evaluation at CIMEQ over the past few days. The CIMEQ medical specialists have...
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