Cover Image
close this bookAction Against Child Labour (ILO, 2000, 356 p.)
close this folder6. Strategies for employers and their organizations
close this folder6.2 EMPLOYER ''BEST PRACTICES'' ON CHILD LABOUR
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAwareness-raising and policy development initiatives
View the documentEmployer action to combat child labour in specific sectors
View the documentDirect support for the removal and rehabilitation of child workers

Direct support for the removal and rehabilitation of child workers

Employers' organizations and their members have also undertaken direct action programmes to remove and rehabilitate children working in a particular industry. Because these types of intervention are generally complex, significant resources and broad social mobilization are required to ensure that the best interests of the children are safeguarded.

Examples of direct support are found below.

Box 6.11. The garment industry in Bangladesh

The garment industry in Bangladesh is an example of the dangers of precipitate action. In 1992, the threat of possible trade sanctions under proposed legislation in the United States, its major market, created panic in the industry. There is evidence that employers dismissed children in an effort to forestall possible trade sanctions. This led to a transfer of child workers largely to the informal sector, which posed even more dangers to the children because of the unregulated nature of this work.

In response, a positive initiative was undertaken by a broad social alliance. On 4 July 1995, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association (BGMEA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ILO and UNICEF aimed at the elimination of child labour in the garment industry and the provision of credible alternatives.

ILO-IPEC led in setting up the monitoring and verification system, and the compensation system, while UNICEF concentrated on establishing educational facilities available near the children's homes. A project known as the Verification and Monitoring System for the Elimination and Prevention of Child Labour in BGMEA Factories and the Placement of Child Workers in School Programmes was launched, the core elements of which are as follows:

· conducting, during 1995, a survey to identify the children working in the garment industry;

· developing and implementing an experimental monitoring and verification system to remove child workers under the age of 14 from garment factories and to prevent other children from entering employment in such factories;

· withdrawing over 10,000 children under the age of 14 from work in garment factories and enrolling them in special education programmes; and

· paying partial compensation to the children and their families for the loss of income and to enable the children to participate in the education programmes.

The BGMEA collaborated with ILO-IPEC on a monitoring and verification system to ensure that BGMEA factories and their subcontractors did not employ children younger than 14.

Twenty-eight child labour monitors were trained and were responsible for inspecting factory sites in Dhaka and Chittagong, and for monitoring school attendance. Close collaboration has been forged between the ILO, BGMEA and the Government.

Out of 1,314 factories inspected between January and April 1997,12 per cent were found to employ children, a significant drop from 1995 and 1996, when, respectively, 43 per cent and 34 per cent of the factories surveyed were found to employ children. In the event of an infraction of the agreement, the name of the violating manufacturer is reported to BGMEA for further action. The penalty for an infraction can either be a fine of US$1,000 or, in the case of a repeat violation, a temporary withdrawal of the manufacturer's export licence.

In collaboration with the Social Investment Bank Ltd. (SIBL) Bangladesh, a system has been set up for the disbursement of an allowance to compensate the families of the ex-working children for loss of income. SIBL is in charge of disbursing the allowance, which is contingent on the regular school attendance of the children. As of 31 January 1997, 8,031 former garment child workers had been enrolled in 316 schools. Four schools have introduced skills training programmes, which are gradually to be extended to other schools.

To enhance the support base, UNICEF has been involved in the design and support of non-formal education programmes, which are operating through close collaboration with respected local NGOs such as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).

The vocational career-oriented curricula envisaged for the second phase of the project is to include para-skills training (short-term and low-cost light vocational courses), pre-vocational education (introduction to occupations), and career counselling. In addition, the scope for entrepreneurship training and mainstreaming to established vocational training schools will be explored through a working partnership with established vocational institutions in Bangladesh. The project will also aim to enhance the capacity of local institutions and agencies to implement vocational training schemes.

Prevention and monitoring

IPEC has set up an external and internal workplace monitoring system to identify the occurrence of child labour in the football-making industry in Sialkot and to ensure its phase-out. The monitoring team collaborates with the participating manufacturers, who are responsible for internal monitoring. The monitoring system for the Sialkot football industry is based on the principles and concepts of the monitoring system developed by the ILO for the garment industry in Bangladesh.

The ILO's external monitoring programme started on 1 October 1997, with the recruitment of 15 monitors and one national team leader. The monitoring team is supervised by an ILO international expert on the subject. The initial period was spent in thoroughly training the monitors, drawing up zones and doing test field runs. Sialkot district was divided into seven zones and each zone was assigned a team of two monitors, with a defined frequency of surprise visits each month.

Box 6.12. The sporting goods industry in Pakistan

Another industry-based employer initiative aims to eliminate child labour in he manufacture of footballs in Sialkot, Pakistan. The Partners' Agreement was signed in 1997 by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the ILO and UNICEF. The Agreement marks the first time that local manufacturers and exporters, as well as their international counterparts in an entire industry, have cooperated closely with the ILO to phase out child labour and to ensure that viable alternatives are provided.

The Agreement led to a joint project aimed at eliminating child labour in the manufacture of footballs through voluntary participation of manufacturers. The project is implemented jointly by the ILO, UNICEF, the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Save the Children - United Kingdom, Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (Government Welfare Fund Department) and Bunyad Literacy Community Council, a local NGO.

The aim of internal monitoring is to provide data which is cross-checked by the external monitoring system. Participating manufacturers have each appointed a senior manager to supervise the company's internal monitoring. The internal monitors are responsible for collecting and providing the following data on a regular basis to the external monitors:

· the names and contact information of all stitching centres;

· the names, addresses and ages of all stitchers working in the stitching centres run by the manufacturers;

· the names and addresses of the stitching centres run by the subcontractors;

· the names, addresses and ages of all stitchers working for the subcontractors; and

· the estimated number of stitchers necessary to reach target production.

The participating manufacturers are to set up stitching centres within a given time frame as follows:

· within six months of joining the programme, the registered stitching centres should represent at least 25 per cent of the yearly target production;

· within 12 months of joining the programme, the registered stitching centres should represent at least 50 per cent of the yearly target production; and

· within 18 months of joining the programme, the registered stitching centres should represent 100 per cent of the yearly target production.

All stitchers younger than 14 are to be placed in the social protection programme, and a qualified member of the family is to be offered to take the place of the child worker.

Social protection

The children withdrawn from football stitching and others affected by the monitoring programme are not left to wander off to other work situations. The IPEC social protection programme provides these children and their families with alternatives, including non-formal education. The programme works closely with the families and the communities. The focal point for the social protection services in the communities of varying size and nature are the Village Education and Action (VEA) Centres, or Umang Tallemi Centres (UTCs), as they are known locally. These form a network of activity centres in the football stitching communities in Sialkot district. By the end of the first six-month period about 3,000 children and their families, of the 5,400 to 7,000 targeted, were already in the social protection programme, through some 90 Village Education and Action Centres. Prior to joining the social protection programme, about half of these children were stitching footballs full time, and most of the others were helping their families with football-related work.

Getting working children to accept educational programmes and services requires considerable mobilization and awareness-raising with the children and their families, particularly if the children are earning well. The children are offered no stipends or family allowances on joining the programme.

A local partner NGO and IPEC have developed assessment and review instruments to measure progress and enable the sound monitoring of social protection components of such child labour programmes and projects. The success and impact of this project has encouraged the carpet manufacturers in Pakistan to develop a similar Prevention and Monitoring Programme in the carpet industry, which was launched in 1999.

Box 6.13. A tripartite campaign in Italy

Employers' organizations in developed countries have provided assistance for child labourers in developing countries. One example is the campaign in Italy by the ILO's tripartite constituents - Italian trade unions, the Confederation of Italian Industry (CONFINDUSTRIA), and the Italian government - and the national committee for UNICEF. A protocol was signed on 29 February 1996 committing workers to donate one hour or one day of their wages to benefit working children in developing countries. The participating employers agreed to match these contributions. A Conference entitled "Italian Working World Against Child Labour" was held in Rome, where a contribution of over US$ 1.66 million was raised for IPEC and UNICEF activities to combat child labour in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

The Italian financial contribution stipulates that its supported projects must have a strong element of involvement of the workers' and employers' organizations in 44 countries. The project's immediate objectives are to strengthen the capacity of trade unions and employers' organizations in the designated countries to fight against child labour at both the national level (policy formulation, public awareness campaigns) and at the community and workplace level (direct assistance to working children). The programmes supported by the Italian fund are targeted at the garment industry in Bangladesh, children in bonded labour in Nepal, and surgical instrument manufacturing in Pakistan.

Box 6.14. The informal sector in Bolivia

Employers' organizations have been involved in efforts to provide rehabilitation to former child labourers in the informal sector. For example, the Confederacie Empresarios Privados de Bolivia (CEPB), the central employers' organization in Bolivia, has a private foundation called the National Training and Skill Development Foundation, which it established for the purpose of training manual labourers. Branch training centres are located in each of the major cities in Bolivia. With the support of IPEC, the CEPB established a pilot training centre in Santa Cruz to upgrade the technical skills of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16. This programme - "A Beginning, A Future" - is designed for street children. During late 1995 and early 1996, the CEPB, with the assistance of local NGOs, recruited 430 children who were working on the streets of Santa Cruz (selling cigarettes, newspapers, flowers, or as shoeshiners, etc). These young people were enrolled in a skills development programme run by the CEPB, which is carried out in four cycles of ten weeks each in the following subjects:

· metal mechanics;
· automotive mechanics;
· embroidery and sewing;
· basic electronics; and
· toy craftsmanship.

Daily transportation for the young people to and from various locations in Santa Cruz and the training centre is provided by the CEPB. The courses are held five days per week, for two hours each day, with breaks for a snack provided by the CEPB. The course work is 30 per cent theory and 70 per cent practical training, and is overseen by a social worker/teacher hired by the CEPB. Although this is an experimental project, the success thus far has been impressive. Despite the fact that course attendance is not compulsory, only 4 per cent of those children who have entered the programme to date have dropped out. Those working with the programme have already identified the positive impact on the young people, including a marked improvement in their attention spans, discipline, overall hygiene, and motivation for work and learning. In addition to the technical training courses, leisure activities are organized for the young people, including football matches, folklore music sessions, dance evenings, and Christmas craft bazaars where their products are sold.

The broad goal of the CEPB programme is to build up the children's self-esteem. The aim of the project's second phase is to integrate the children who have completed the training into specific industry branches. Agreements have been signed for this purpose between the CEPB and the sectoral associations and enterprises with which it is affiliated, especially in forestry, tourism, and commercial industries. Many corporations (including multinationals such as Coca-Cola) are also actively supporting this programme. The CEPB is motivating other branches of the private sector to initiate similar measures to upgrade the skills of children who are working in the informal sector, and plans were underway to expand the number of training centres to ten. The CEPB also envisages the creation of a scholarship programme for children who lack sufficient resources to attend school, and is working towards the development of micro-enterprises (such as gardening and bakeries) where these adolescents can work after completion of their study course.

With a view to sharing their experiences with other employers' organizations in the subregion, the CEPB hosted the first Ibero-American Employers' Subregional Seminar on the Elimination of Child Labour in 1998.