ILO child labour Convention comes into force in France
The 1999 ILO Convention No. 182 on the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour was implemented in France by a decree issued on 15 November 2001.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 182 concerning the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour and immediate action for their elimination was adopted by the ILO conference in June 1999. It was ratified by France in September 2001 and was enacted into French law by a decree issued on 15 November.
The earlier ILO Convention No. 138 concerning the minimum age for admission to employment , adopted in 1973, established a minimum age for starting work (15 years, or 14 years in less developed countries), but is widely regarded as inadequate and above all ineffective, since its provisions have in practice enabled its scope to be severely restricted. Its application across countries has been very uneven. As with many other international labour standards, the banning of all child labour is perceived by developing countries as a way for richer countries to protect themselves against competition.
Convention No. 182 is a more limited but more binding instrument, and seeks to be more effective than its predecessor. By confining itself to 'consensual' social standards - ie the elimination of the most unacceptable forms of child labour - the Convention's goal is to overcome the reluctance of some nations. It has so far been ratified by 109 countries.
The worst forms of child labour, as defined by the Convention are:
- all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
- the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
- the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties; and
- work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
The Convention obliges those states that ratify it to take immediate effective measures to ban these forms of work. By providing that it is the responsibility of the competent authorities, in partnership with employers' and workers' organisations, to identify the worst forms of child labour, the Convention also has the advantage of giving trade unions a part to play, including those in countries where the position of unions is not well defined.
This Convention is supported by French employers' associations and trade unions.