Employer action to combat child labour in specific sectors
Once an employers' organization has established a general policy framework on child labour, it is possible to follow up with more focused activities in particular sectors (including the informal sector) where child labour may pose a particular challenge. Such action is preceded by an information-gathering stage in which sectors and representative business associations are identified as partners in the design of direct programmes to prevent child labour.
Five examples of such actions are described below.
Box 6.6. South Africa Agricultural Union
The South Africa Agricultural Union (SAAU), a member of Business South Africa (BSA), participated in outreach programmes with the ILO, UNICEF, and the Departments of Labour, Education, and Health, to examine the working conditions of minors in the agricultural sector.
It developed a policy on child labour which sets out the following conditions under which children may engage in light work:
• with the full consent of the child and its parents, preferably in writing;
• no forms of bonded child labour should be allowed or tolerated;
• the work to be performed by children should contribute to their social and possible career development;
• the mental and physical ability of children must be taken into consideration in deciding whether or not to employ them and in determining what tasks they should perform;
• the working hours should be limited to no more than ten per week (two per day) during school terms and 25 per week (five per day) during holidays; and
• a working child should be paid a market-related wage.
The SAAU policy also stipulates that compulsory education should be supplemented by an effective schooling infrastructure to enable children in rural areas to attend school within reach of their homes.
Box 6.7. All-Indian Organization of Employers
The All-Indian Organization of Employers (AIOE), the national employers' organization in India, has taken a multi-pronged approach involving employers and their organizations, trade unions and workers, parents of working children, and opinion leaders. The project is being implemented in five cities/areas (Hyderabad, Pune, District Sagar, Chennai-Madras, and Ferozabad) with the help of the regional Chambers of Commerce. It seeks first to improve the working conditions of children while devising plans of action for the replacement of child workers with adult workers. The AIOE has appointed a senior staff member to serve as the focal point for child labour activities and to coordinate this work.
The chief objective of the project is the sensitization and modernization of industries where there is a prevalence of child labour. The sectors selected to take part in this activity were the bangle industry, the stainless steel industry, the bidi (cigarette) industry, the hotel industry, and small automobile garages and workshops. The AIOE collaborated directly with the Stainless Steel Manufacturers Association in October 1996, starting with a survey of working children, the parents of working children, employers of the children, and trade unions. The AIOE persuaded steel manufacturers that the use of child labour in their industry would result in the rejection of exports by developed countries. The members of the Association agreed not to hire additional child labourers and to start an educational fund for working children. Social workers helped to familiarize individual employers and the families of working children with the implications of the recent Indian Supreme Court directives against child labour. Employers began to support the gradual phasing-out approach, and to create better working conditions, on the proviso that they continue to receive encouragement and assistance from the Government.
The local Chamber of Commerce affiliated with this project - the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Madras) - has in turn developed its own action plan to combat child labour. It involves the following components:
• focused removal of child labourers in selected manufacturing units;
• creation of a permanent fund for rehabilitation of child labourers with contributions from industry, chambers of commerce, employers of child labour and other organizations;
• psychological analysis of child labourers and the impact of child labour on society;
• educating parents of child labourers through adult education programmes;
• charting an alternate income-generating programme;
• monitoring establishments employing child labour; and
• freezing further recruitment of child labour.
In early 1997, the AIOE organized a regional seminar in Chennai-Madras on the elimination of child labour in collaboration with IPEC and the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI). As a follow-up to this seminar, SICCI supported the creation of a permanent fund - financed by industry, chambers of commerce, employers of child workers, and other organizations - to maintain rehabilitation programmes for children. This fund is managed by a combined group of trustees drawn from each of the above groups. The SICCI is now monitoring other sectors in the region where child labour occurs, and continues to impress upon its members the need to freeze further child employment in their units, to devise plans for the gradual phasing out of existing child labour, and to establish strategies for the rehabilitation of these children, including flexible and relevant education.
Box 6.8. Federation of Kenya Employers
The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), during the initial phases of its programme, convened regional awareness-raising workshops in which it formulated and disseminated employer guidelines on child labour.
The target group of the FKE's current programme includes selected member companies, such as the Kenya Tea Growers Association, Sasini Tea and Coffee, Mumias Sugar Co., Chemelil Sugar Co., Aheroi Rice Scheme, West Kno Rice Scheme, Hotel Keepers Association, Sisal Growers Association, and Kensalt Ltd. The aims of this programme are as follows:
• assisting selected companies in formulating and implementing policies and an action plan on child labour;
• providing technical advice and support to the selected companies willing to initiate measures to combat child labour;
• identifying feasible measures and activities for selected employers in the fight against child labour; and
• collaborating with the Government, trade unions, NGOs, and other interested parties in fighting child labour.
The main activities which have been carried out under this programme include:
• conducting field visits to selected companies to evaluate the working conditions and hazards faced by working children;
• holding discussions with the management and workers of selected companies to draw up a policy and plan of action;
• preparing action plans at the sectoral level to guide effective employer interventions to combat child labour;
• establishing a Working Children's Welfare Committee within each selected company to oversee the implementation of the above action plan;
• formulating guidelines for the Welfare Committee established in each company;
• preparing a comprehensive report at the end of the programme; and
• conducting follow-up visits to the selected companies.
A child labour unit has been established by the FKE under its Research and Information Department. A column on child labour has also been incorporated into the FKE quarterly newsletter. Employer guidelines on child labour have been issued, which focus on:
• adopting more aggressive methods of recruiting adult workers in labour surplus areas;
• establishing working norms for various activities in the plantation sector and other areas of work for children that are appropriate to their ages;
• providing longer and more frequent rest periods;
• providing regular medical check-ups;
• providing protective clothing and devices, field shelters and subsidized midday meals, where applicable, as well as safe and comfortable transport to and from work.
The FKE monitors application of these guidelines and assists its members in formulating internal company policies and action plans on child labour which take their individual situations into account.
Box 6.9. Association of Tanzania Employers
The Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) started with raising awareness of the extent of child labour on sisal estates in 1995. An initial workshop gave estate owners and managers the opportunity to discuss child labour and the improvement of general working conditions, for example, through the development of piecework tasks organized according to the capacity of child labourers. One outcome of the workshop was an agreement by the participating employers to exclude working children from tasks which are dangerous and hazardous, provide protective gear, set up a cooperation arrangement with teachers and parents to curb child labour, and improve school enrolment and education standards in primary schools located on the estates.
The workshop also defined short- and long-term goals for sisal estate owners and managers. Long-term goals included action to improve labour inspection by providing inspectors with transport, and establishing credit facilities to provide opportunities for workers in the informal sector to generate income. Another was the establishment of secondary day school and vocational training centres, along with the establishment of dispensaries, welfare, and day-care centres. Short-term action identified by the employers included the provision of protective gear, introducing payment-by-results schemes to improve the earnings of adult employees, and prohibiting child labour in hazardous tasks. To ensure effective implementation of this programme, the ATE recommended that committees be established to oversee follow-up on the action programmes. These committees were recommended to be made up of the sisal estate owner, the regional labour and education offices, trade unions, and community leaders.
The ATE is currently working to assist its members in the tea and coffee plantations in Tanga, Mbeya and Arusha regions, where children below 15 years of age, including primary school drop-outs and others not yet enrolled in school, engage in harvesting. The ATE organized sensitization seminars for the owners and managers of six tea plantations with a high incidence of child labour in the Arusha region during which the ATE assisted its members in formulating action plans for the prevention of child labour and the protection of child workers.
Box 6.10. Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations
In 1993-94, the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TISK) conducted four seminars in Ankara, Adana, Bursa and Istanbul in which local employers assessed the causes of child labour. They determined the primary factors to be rapid population growth, an inadequate education system, and the economic and social structure of families. These seminars presented the situations of children working in both the formal and informal sectors and in large industries, while academics presented information on children's social security rights and benefits.
In a second phase, TISK focused on the small and medium-sized employers in the metal industry. This particular target industry was selected because the results of a survey carried out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security's Labour Inspectors revealed that children working in this sector are at particularly high risk. Three industrial sites in Istanbul were selected to implement the programme. In each of these sites, 100 small-scale enterprises - a total of 300 employers - were reached.
In the course of field studies, information on the formal apprenticeship system was supplied to small-scale industry employers to increase their awareness of child labour issues. Surveys were carried out by the teaching staff of the Apprenticeship Training Centres to provide the best information on the system to employers. TISK encouraged employers to register the children participating in apprenticeship programmes of the Apprenticeship Training Centres of the Ministry of Education.
At the recommendation of the Turkish Ministry of Labour, TISK also focused on improving the working conditions of the children employed in the metal sector. Seminars were held in 1997 to identify appropriate measures, for example through the control of dangerous gases, improved ventilation of the workplaces, and the modification of ergonomic conditions. Several workshops were held for the purpose of outlining, with the cooperation of national experts and TISK member associations, the content and design of a booklet entitled The risks of child labour and the measures to be taken in the metal sector. This book was published by TISK in July 1997.
TISK has also published a book entitled Child labour in Turkey, which describes the activities carried out to date on child labour. It summarizes statistics compiled by the State Institute of Statistics, including information on the age of the working children and their economic activity, and gives an overview of child labour legislation in the country, as well as TISK's views on the child labour problem and strategies to combat it in Turkey.