On June 12, World Day against Child Labour, there is nothing to celebrate as we see a shocking rise in the numbers of working children.
Progress to eliminate child labour was already slowing before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ILO and UNICEF are now projecting that with the impact on livelihoods of the COVID-19, the number of child labourers could rise to 168.9 million by the end of 2022.
To that, we have to add the social and economic impacts of the war in Ukraine as global food and energy prices soar.
These figures must not deter us – instead they should drive us to increase our efforts to end child labour.
Sadly, there has been no progress in agriculture which remains the biggest user of child labour. 70% of all child labour takes place in agriculture – equivalent to 112 million children.
But there has been progress in getting global recognition of the fact that unless focused efforts are made to tackle child labour in agriculture then the world will not achieve its targets for elimination of child labour.
On WDACL, EFFAT joins the IUF welcoming the commitments adopted by all parties at the Durban 5th Global Conference on the elimination of child labour to:
- scale up action to end child labour in agriculture;
- adopt action plans to eliminate obstacles to the establishment, growth and the pursuit of rural workers trade unions;
- adopt safe agricultural practices and to eliminate or minimize work-related hazards and risks, including exposure to harmful substances, such as hazardous pesticides;
- end child labour in supply chains.
These commitments must now move from paper to action in the fields and plantations.
In particular EFFAT, will further drive its actions in Europe in support of sustainability in the production of cocoa and chocolate, including through influencing the on-going negotiations on the proposed Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence and the initiative on forced labour.
On WDACL we commit to:
Strengthen organizing in agriculture to build the labour movement locally and nationally. This remains essential for the elimination of child labour.
Negotiating agreements with companies not to use child labour, to ensure decent work throughout their supply chains and not to source from operations which use child labour.
Campaign for the ratification of ILO Conventions key to eliminating child labour in agriculture.
Notes for the press
The facts about child labour in agriculture (source FAO)
- 70 percent of child labour occurs in agriculture, currently affecting 112 million children, an increase of 4 million since 2016.
- Children between 5 and 11 years make up three-quarters of all child labour in agriculture.
- 72 percent of all child labour in agriculture is in small-scale family farms, but it is also found in large-scale agri-businesses.
- Around half of all children in child labour, including in agriculture, work in hazardous conditions that are detrimental to their safety, health, or moral development.