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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The struggle continues on World Day Against Child Labour

Many people have some notion that the horrors of child labour can only be found in the pages of some Dickensian 19th century tale of past exploitation and human woe.

But today, June 12th, the World Day Against Child Labour, it is important to note that this is not at all true.

Globally child labour still robs tens of millions of children of their childhood, education and their future.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF latest estimates indicate that 160 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour – that is, work that they are too young to perform or that, by its nature or circumstances, is likely to harm children’s health, safety or morals.

Many of these children are working in agriculture. The International Union of Foodworkers says that:

25 years have passed since the adoption of ILO convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour in June 1999. Despite universal ratification of the convention in 2020, there are still 112 million children working in agriculture. On this World Day Against Child Labour, the IUF is calling for urgent and effective action on governments’ commitments and companies’ responsibilities to address the underlying causes of child labour in agriculture and to introduce regulations limiting practices that encourage child labour.

In agriculture, piece rate and quota wage systems encourage child labour on farms and plantations because high daily piece rate quotas push workers beyond their physical limits; workers’ children step in to help their parents meet the daily quotas so they don’t lose their jobs. Furthermore, global supply chain purchasing practices encourage child labour, because buyers do not pay enough for crops to ensure workers in agriculture are paid a living wage. Finally, endemic violations of workers’ fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining ensure that millions of workers cannot bargain collectively for living wages. Despite ample commitments as well as instruments for the eradication of child labour, we need action.

On this WDACL 2024, the IUF is calling again for action:

The World Federation of Trade Unions released a statement about child labor:

The World Federation of Trade Unions, the militant voice of 105 million workers who live, work, and struggle in 133 countries of the 5 continents, reaffirms that the class-oriented trade union movement is fundamentally opposed and timelessly struggles against the capitalist exploitation and particularly the inhumane and bloody child labour.

On the occasion of June 12th, World Day Against Child Labor, we strongly condemn the barbaric exploitation of children as cheap labor force all over the world. Even in the most advanced economies, underage exploitation is a fact, and childhood is stolen from children. The big capital monopolies, driven by their endless thirst for profits exploit the children as cheap labor. Especially amid the capitalist crisis and the deepening of intra-imperialist rivalries, the exploitation of children is intensifying even more, always with a view to maximizing the profits of multinationals. Child workers are mainly employed in the sectors of agriculture, fishing, and mining, while other children work even as modern-day slaves.

As the world’s class-oriented trade union movement, the WFTU organizes with unwavering commitment our struggle for the abolition of child labour and for the total protection of ALL children’s rights:

– The children’s right to proper nutrition and healthcare in a world where thousands of children die daily, because of lack of food and while hunger is responsible for half of child deaths in Africa.

– Public free and compulsory education for all children.

– Recreation and access to leisure activities that develop the children’s personality and talents.

We demand all the necessary measures to be promptly taken for the adequate protection of children from child labor, as well as for the covering of all of their contemporary needs. The international class-oriented trade union movement intensifies its struggle and initiatives against child labour and all forms of exploitation.



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