Child labour not lost amidst COVID19 crisis

The World Day against Child Labour was not lost on Samoa this year, despite the COVID19 concerns.

Celebrated with the theme "Children should now be protected more than ever," the theme focussed on the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on child labour.

The day is designed to shed light on the importance of child labour as a global issue and attempts to eliminate it. 

Albert Meredith, M.C.I.L. Assistant C.E.O. (Industrial Relations, Employment Permits, Occupational Safety, and Health Division) said this year's theme relates to COVID-19.

"The theme addresses those issues where families are in the situation where they have to make up for the loss of household income and it forces families to put the children into hazardous child labour or dangerous positions of child labour," he said

The COVID-19 pandemic has left countries to face health issues, economic and social misfortune including the impacts imposed on children participating in labour activities across the most vulnerable countries.

According to data from the International Labour Organisation (I.L.O.), before the spread of COVID-19, almost 100 million children have been removed from child labour bringing down the number from 246 million in 2000 to 152 million in 2016. 

Asia and the Pacific are ranked the second-highest in child labour confirming that low-income countries have the worst forms of child labour.

Reports released in 2018 by the Bureau International Labour Affairs states that children in Samoa engage in the worst forms of child labour especially in the form of street vending. However, ever since then, Samoa has managed to reduce this issue through various forms of mechanisms. 

"I think the main mechanism and our most effective is our inter-agency corporation where we work together with the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture to address different issues especially the issue of child labour through street vending," Mr. Meredith added 

"The issue is to be tackled by multiple agencies and not just one because we all have different mandates and the only way to address the issue is by combining those efforts through those different mandates."

The Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour takes the lead in improving enforcement and relevant legislation to assist in combating the exploitation of children in the formal sector. 

Section 51 of the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013 ‘Act’ as well as section 21, 22 & 23 of the Regulations 2016 ‘LERR’ serves as a reminder to all employers on their obligations regarding the employment of children.

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