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ILO urges global action against child labour as under-18 labourers hits 152 million


Child labour

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has urged co-ordinated action to end rising cases of children labourers worldwide, which has hit 152 million.

Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, who spoke yesterday on the sideline of the on-going ILO yearly conference in Geneva, Switzerland, said the economic root causes of child-labour must be such as global supply chains and unpaid family work in agriculture.

He added that the challenge is not just about globally-traded garments, tobacco and cocoa, but also about local markets for sorghum, millet, bricks – and about domestic work as well.


Ryder, who pointed out that some 152 million children aged five to 17 are in child-labour worldwide, stressed that between 2012 and 2016, there was almost no reduction in the number of children aged five to 11 in child-labour and that the number of the most vulnerable youngest children in hazardous work actually increased.

He said this is so partly because child-labour in agriculture – which is mostly unpaid family work – increased, saying: “These children typically begin child-labour at the age of six or seven and they commonly perform hazardous work as they get older.

In another development, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said that the Federal Government will soon begin to enforce the provision of crèches in every workplace.

Ngige, who spoke at the ILO conference, said all employers, including government and the private sector, would be compelled to create crèches for nursing mothers in business premises to ease the pressure that comes with motherhood.

He said: “Employers of labour in both the public and private sectors are by regulation requested to provide crèches for nursing mothers for ease at work place.”

Ngige, who also hinted that government recently increased the period for maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks to allow enough recuperation time for both the baby and mother, especially in the area of breast-feeding, said all disciplinary proceedings against any female staff which might have been taken during the period of her maternity leave shall be put in abeyance till the expiration of the leave while employers of labour are also barred from removing women from work due to their marital or maternity status.

Besides, he said that illegal labour migration, contract staffing and labour casualisation which affect most women are undergoing reforms through policies and regulations at national, bilateral and multilateral levels.

He, however, said that a lot needs to be done in terms of putting in place appropriate legislation, policies and practices to deal with the gender gaps that inhibit greater participation of women in the labour force.

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