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Social justice key to fighting child labour!

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi says the fight against child labour is about social justice, creating a prosperous future and hope for children.

Minister Nxesi told delegates at the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour that South Africa as a long-standing member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) had always stood for global social justice.

“But, in South Africa we also share the vision of the ILO and that of its member states – that of transforming the labour market and developing a decent world of work,” he said.

Nxesi was speaking during a high level panel discussion on the topic of child labour in the midst of the deficits in decent work and youth employment, identifying pressing global challenges, and priorities for the global community.

“South Africa takes the issue of child labour very seriously. The country subscribes on the centenary declaration on the future of work that is premised on human-centred approach. The conference gives us an opportunity to show our commitment to eliminating child labour,” Nxesi said.

Meanwhile, International Labour Organization Director-General, Guy Ryder, said the fight against the elimination of child labour has been characterised by “a go back – to go forward”.

“My impression over the last 20 years is that we got a little bit complacent. We were making really good progress until the last 10 years. Things have started to slow down. We stopped making child labour and its elimination a key policy objective – nationally and internationally. We talk a lot about child labour and have a lot of programmes against child labour. We need a political push against this campaign.

“We have the global architecture. Nationally we also have commitments and thirdly, we need to bring in all the stakeholders,” he said.

Ryder said that there is a need to bring in the global elements and the national elements into the mix to regain the momentum quickly – which has somewhat dissipated.

“Let us not be distracted by the very real broad of challenges in the labour market – such as youth unemployment and others. Let us make sure that child labour features in all the approaches – explicitly,” he said.

The conference continues today with discussions on:

  • teachers and their unions in successful mobilisation to bring children back to school post COVID;
  • case studies on child labour;
  • reducing child labour and forced labour through skills development;
  • responding to child labour in times of crisis;
  • the role of education;
  • policy priorities to end child labour in Africa; and
  • scaling-up business due diligence on child labour.

The Global Conference held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre (ICC) in Durban will during its duration include 28 side events, one-hour sessions that will allow delegates to further share knowledge and experiences related to the main topics addressed in the event.

The conference is expected to end on Friday.