Address child labour issue with legislation

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has praised the Government for addressing child labour issues but called for legislation as a long-term solution.

The ILO national coordinator to Samoa, Tomasi Peni, told the Samoa Observer in an interview that his organisation currently works in a tripartite partnership with the Government, employers and the Samoa Workers Congress.

And while the Government has spearheaded labour-related initiatives – through entities such as the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour (MCIL) – there is a lot more that should be done to address issues such as child labour.

“The Government is doing a good job through initiatives like the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour with the minimum age of employment which is 15 – with conditions as well in reference to the hazardous work list and light work list – children are not supposed to engage in any hazardous work but only those 18 and above. 

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“But we need to see more progress through the law regarding child labour, because there is currently no law in Samoa only the Education Act. Street vending is one form of child labour, and so street vending is the only case we can find here in Samoa,” he said. 

Street vending in Samoa is not bad, Mr. Peni added, unlike other countries where the children are vulnerable to prostitution and child trafficking. 

Acknowledging the role of non-government organisations like the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), he said they empower children through their activities such as the Buddying Up Programme. 

“The Buddying Up Programme focused on promoting the significance of education in the lives of Samoan child vendors and improving their self-esteem. 

“Child labour is a violation of fundamental human rights and has been shown to hinder children’s development, potentially leading to lifelong physical or psychological damage, and it is one of the main priorities of ILO to fight against it,” Mr. Peni added. 

The ILO national coordinator also acknowledged the role of the media in highlighting issues such as child labour and the work of the Government in trying to address it. 

 “When we look at child labour or street vendors, it is everyone’s responsibility, but at the end of the day it all comes down to parents. It is okay to sell after school but during night times, children are at risk and their safety should be a priority. Street vending is not bad, I testify to that because I used to be a street vendor and now I have secured a successful future,” he added.

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