Today is the National Day against child labour. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has been a strong voice in addressing the problem of child labour world-wide. Locally the Department of Labour is the local champion for preventing child labour. As the HR professional and quality assurance body for HR Management, the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) would like to add our voice to all the other opponents of child labour, both internationally and locally.
Children are the future of any country. Despite the new focus on children and the youth, there are various factors hindering the welfare and development of children in South Africa. As indicated by the Department of Labour in The Star, South Africa, like any other country, also suffers from this scourge where children are forced by various circumstances, to work.
It is important to make the distinction between child work and child labour. Research done by the Department of Labour, against the backdrop of the current situation regarding poverty, indicates that of those children found to be in child labour, almost 65% indicated that they did so in order to help their parents. This kind of help, where a child is forced by circumstances to work, is wrong. This clearly constitutes child labour. Household chores that do not affect the child’s health, schooling or development, is allowed.
South Africa has developed a road-map towards the prevention, reduction and eventual elimination of child labour called the Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA). The CLPA was first adopted in 2003 after extensive consultation within Government and with a wide range of orgainisations outside Government. The programme set out specific actions to be taken and assigned responsibility for these actions.
The second phase was adopted by Cabinet on 4 February 2009 and covered the financial years 2008/09 to 2012/13. It served to focus and guide the efforts of a number of government departments and civil society groups, including business organisations, labour federations and orgainisations, serving the interest of these children.
The report to Cabinet on progress on the CLPA 2nd phase, which was adopted by Cabinet in 2013, noted that Government had performed relatively well in the areas of awareness raising, training and development of materials, as well as in respect of some legislation and regulations. SABPP wants to commend the Government with these efforts, but appeal to the business community to support these efforts.
The third phase covers the period April 2013 to March 2017 and focused on service delivery and implementation. The revision aimed to come up with a set of action steps that will make a “direct” difference for children engaged, or at risk of being engaged in child labour within this period.
Anybody who finds a child being employed or used in contravention with the law must report the matter to the nearest Department of Labour office, as well as to the police or any office of the Department of Social Development. Child labour is illegal and needs to be addressed by the relevant authorities. Let us stop child labour immediately!
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