Workers' organizations are well placed to address
the problem of child labour.
n They can
monitor the working conditions of children and denounce child labour
abuses. n They are able to communicate
to large numbers of adult workers the importance of education for
their children, of protecting them against work hazards and of keeping
them from premature engagement in the labour market. n As a major pressure group,
trade unions play an important role not only in collective bargaining
at the workplace, but in mobilizing support for the elimination
of child labour and campaigning for policy changes at all levels.
IPEC has supported a total of 116 trade union initiatives
against child labour in recent years in South East Asia, South Asia,
Africa, Latin America and Europe. The activities have been carried
out in the following areas:
Situational analysis is a prerequisite for action
against child labour. n In Nepal, through the Nepal
Trade Union Congress, a trade union survey of the nature and scope
of child labour in the transport, hotel and restaurant sector n In Turkey, through the Confederation
of Turkish Trade Unions, a survey of the leather, metal and wood
sectors n In Kenya and Tanzania, trade
union organizations have conducted seminars and workshops to ensure
the data collected in surveys is fully utilized by members
Capacity building is built into all IPEC trade
union support, which has taken the shape of efforts to establish
separate child labour units and training of union leaders.
nIn the Philippines,
India, Pakistan and Kenya, IPEC has provided assistance in organizational
strengthening. Organizational changes have been accompanied by training.
Trade union leaders and staff have been made more aware of the child
labour problem and how to develop strategies to solve it. nA wide range of tools has
been used to raise awareness among trade union members. In India,
a booklet entitles "Showing the way: trade unions against child
labour" provides examples of what can be achieved, while in
Brazil, a similar booklet, called "Trade union action against
child labour: Brazilian experience" has helped to put the issue
on the national agenda.
the Confederation of Trade Unions, with IPEC support, has resulted
in 800 girls being withdrawn from domestic labour, returned to primary
school or given vocational skills training. n In Brazil, a major campaign
was launched by the national agricultural workers' confederation.
The campaign included distribution of brochures, broadcasting of
radio programmes on child labour, release of several newspaper articles
and a national seminar. It succeeded in igniting an active debate
on child labour issues, which served as a catalyst for concrete
action targeting child labour.
Direct support to working children
Some trade unions have succeeded in withdrawing
children, others have improved working conditions, while others
have provided education
nIn Indonesia, the aim has been to strengthen the capabilities
of individual child workers at centers run by a union institute,
in order that union workers can improve the quality of life of working
children. Children have also received basic education and vocational
skills training, as well as health care and nutrition at these centers n In Turkey, the Confederation
of Trade Unions, has established dialogue with employers on child
labour issues, although successful dialogue has not always been
possible in other countries.
Campaigning for policy change and collective bargaining
Policy change is a major objective in IPEC-supported union programmes.
Main changes are required in the law and law enforcement mechanisms.
Collective bargaining can improve the situation of the parents,
so that they are not forced to take their children to work, because
they have too high daily targets, or are paid by the piece, or have
too low salaries to be able to send their children to school.
IPEC and workers' organizations in Indonesia
As mentioned, IPEC has had a small programme with
the Women and Youth Institute for the all Indonesian Workers' Union
(LWR-SPSI). Due to the changes in Indonesian
political situation, the ILO Convention 87 Concerning Freedom of
Association and Protection of the Right to Organize was ratified
in 1998 and since then many new trade unions were established. Trade
Unions have been invited by IPEC a few times to provide them with
information on child labour in a rather informal meeting. New activities,
primarily focused at building capacity of new unions are being developed.