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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

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.

According to a UNICEF and International Labour Organization (ILO) report Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward the "number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide".

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

Agriculture is the only sector in which child labour increased between 2016-2020 and with the pandemic, conflicts and disasters, the situation has only worsened. We are moving away from the target of ending child labour, not toward it.
On June 12, the World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL), there are still 160 million children working worldwide. Seventy percent of child labour is in agriculture: 112 million children working on small farms or plantations, often in hazardous conditions.
Child labour prevents many children from attending school or hinders their learning if they do attend. The commitments made by UN Member States to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2025 in all its forms remain a distant dream for children in agriculture.

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

On the International day against child labor, World Federation of Trade Union, with all its affiliates across the globe, recommits itself to fight against all forms of exploitation of children. WFTU holds its firm positions, to end child labor and restore the right of children to a childhood
21 years have passed since the adoption of this day by the United Nations in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labor and the international initiatives of action and efforts to eliminate it, the evil thrives deeper in the exploitative system of capitalism. Until this day children as young as 5 years of age are performing hazardous jobs such as underwater mining, heavy lifting, the handling of dangerous factory machines etc. Majority of the children are engaged in agriculture where they handle poisonous chemicals. Of these 79, million are regularly involved in jobs that pose an immediate danger to physical and mental health. One in four of all victims of trafficking are children involved in forced labor according to UNICEF data. Child slavery is still persistent. According to the International Labor Organization 22 thousand children die every year while at work.
Child labor in the world has risen to meteoric heights in the last years. Between 2016 and 2020 — for the first time in 20 years — the number of working children worldwide has increased. The unprecedented economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the capitalist crisis and wars, are pushing children into exploitative and dangerous child labor further.
Poverty, low literacy, food insecurity are the causes that drive child labor. ILO estimates that a one percent increase in poverty in a country leads to at least a 0.7 percent increase in child labor rates. The bulk of child labor is concentrated in the poorest countries. Rising poverty, the closure of schools and increased food insecurity will mean millions more children will be forced to work in the coming years.
Worst forms of child labor are rampant in the conflict and post conflict settings too. Children are used directly into the hostilities and engaged in supportive tasks and sexual purposes in the armed conflicts. Use of children in the armed conflict is the worst form of child labor and human rights violation.
Child labor is unjust in all dimensions and the systemic roots of child labor are in the barbaric capitalist system. Child labor is the norm under capitalism and is entirely normalized in the capitalist system.
WFTU is committed to its objective to establish an equitable world order which will ensure to everyone the possibility to develop and thrive as human beings. We shall recommit ourselves to this objective and intensify our action to end the inhuman exploitation of children. Through struggles and action every child around the world can enjoy their right for childhood away from exploitation.



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