Social partners strongly support march against child labour

Discussion of child labour at the June 1998 International Labour Conference prompted the Belgian social partners and Government to take a firm stance on the issue.

International organisations vary in their estimates of the numbers involved in child labour worldwide. The World Bank reckons that there are some 250 million children aged five to 14 who have to work, while the International Labour Organisation (ILO) calculates the number of working children as being close to 120 million. Whatever the exact figures, more than 100 countries are currently preparing a proposed new ILO Convention and Recommendation on child labour which should be concluded at its 1999 Conference.

In preparation for discussion of child labour at the ILO Conference in June 1998, the Belgian social partners and Government signed an agreement to step up the international battle against child labour. The document aims to place the issue on the international agenda with a firm stance against the three worst forms - slave labour, dangerous labour and labour in the sex industry. Tripartite support for a common Belgian point of view is important, given the fact that the ILO involves national governments as well as unions and employers' organisations.

An extra impetus for the agreement was the Global march against child labour which had its Belgian stage during May 1998. Along with the ILO, various social organisations and trade unions were involved in the march's organisation and they used the opportunity to launch campaigns against child labour.

Miet Smet, Minister of Labour and Employment, stressed the fact that child labour is currently not a problem in Belgium. She stated, however, that a certain watchfulness is necessary, primarily because of the different lifestyle of certain groups of foreign workers. She also stressed the fact that Belgium is willing to invest more money in international programmes to combat child labour.

The main Belgian unions - ABVV/FGTB and ACV/CSC- emphasised the need for appropriate support if anti-child labour measures are to be successful, including improved training and educational programmes, changes in International Monetary Fund policies and so on. The employers pointed out that in certain sectors which have traditionally been very prone to child labour, important improvements have been made. Examples include the textile industries and distribution sectors.

In conclusion, the Belgian social partners and Government have underlined the need for renewed international attention on the fight against child labour. The tripartite involvement of all relevant partners, as witnessed in Belgium on this issue, can serve as an example.

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Eurofound welcomes feedback and updates on this regulation

Tilføj kommentar