ILO, NECA unveil guidance tool on child rights, labour
The rising number of dependents in Nigeria remains a source of concern to many, especially at a time when more people are falling into the poverty gap. Worsening poverty has equally led many low-income homes to engage their children to income-earning status.
Available data show that the most common industries that employ children in Nigeria are cocoa farming, gold mining, sediment sifting, street peddling and domestic servitude.
Although there are labour laws in place, Nigeria does not actively enforce safety regulations or preventive measures in the workplace, leading to an environment that often results in bodily harm, severe trauma and even death.
Children, who work on the streets, make easy targets for violence and kidnapping.
Statistics has it that Nigeria recorded the highest rate of child labour in the ECOWAS region, with approximately, 15 million child workers as at 2020, equivalent to a staggering 43 per cent of the total population of minors in the country.
Across the country, children between ages five to nine engage in unpaid activities for nearly 18 hours per week, while children between ages 10 to 14 consistently exceed the threshold of 20 hours per week.
To address this, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), through the “Accelerating action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa” (ACCEL) Project, organised series of programmes and carried out research to strengthen the capacities of employers and employers’ organisations in ensuring compliance in the elimination of child labour.
The Guardian learnt that through the ACCEL Africa project, the capacity of organisations had been strengthened for greater involvement in all tiers of child labour elimination, particularly in global supply chains in the organised private sector.
President of NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi, at the official launch of the ‘Child Labour Guidance Tool for Businesses in Nigeria’, said it was a milestone for Nigeria and the lifetime of the accelerating action for the elimination of child labour in supply chains in Africa project.
He said it was aimed at promoting the elimination of child labour in the Cocoa and Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sectors in Nigeria through the ACCEL project.
He said the four-year project funded by the Dutch Government for implementation in Nigeria has since been implemented from 2020 to date, strengthened and deepened the capacity of organisations, as well as key stakeholders in the organised private sector on the urgent need to eliminate child labour practices and its impacts from global supply chains in Nigeria and the rest of the world.
Adeniyi, who was represented by the 1st Vice President of NECA, Kunle Oyelana, said the project has positively impacted the focus areas in Nigeria, including communities in Niger, Ondo and Osun States, where child labour practices are prevalent.
According to him, many children work for long hours in dangerous and unhealthy environments and carry too much responsibility for their age.
“They work with little food, small pay, no education and no medical care, thereby establishing a cycle of child rights violations. This is in spite of Nigeria’s ratification of the ILO’s Child Labour Convention 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour
“NECA would continually advocate and create awareness among the actors in the supply chain, about the adverse hiring practices of suppliers and benefits of responsible businesses without child labour. We strongly believe that employers should be at the forefront of promoting best practice. We are optimistic that these interventions will contribute to the achievement of SDG 8.7 and goals of ACCEL Africa. We urge our Chief Executives to join the global partnership and help fund the Elimination of Child Labour and forced Labour to ensure Social Protection for Children,” he said.
Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone And Liaison Office For ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, expressed optimism that the effective implementation of the guide would address the challenges of child labour on the supply chains.
Acknowledging that Nigeria, in the past two years, had achieved some milestone in the elimination of child labour, she, however, said there is the need for more concerted effort to achieve zero tolerance to child labour.
“We are hopeful that, as employers of labour, this guidance tool would serve as a constant reminder that eliminating child labour is a collective responsibility and you have an important part to play in the global campaign to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7,’ she said.
She urged human resource managers and recruiters that recruitment processes must ensure that child labour is shut out of farms, factories, warehouses, mines, construction sites, markets, garages, haulage and other touch points for paid work.
”May I also state the importance of ensuring protection to children within the legal working age. They deserve to be protected and should only perform tasks appropriate for their age, while allowing for their guarded association, unionisation and participation in negotiations regarding their interests and wellbeing without consequence. The duration of work and conditions under which the job is being done should align with international labour standards and should be in the best interest of the child.
“Remember, child labour gives the false impression of cost-saving, whereas it jeopardizes our collective safety by exposing children to hazards, hampered value for education, trauma, and other vices, while denying qualified adults the opportunity to work and fend for their families,” she said