Cover Image
close this bookAction Against Child Labour (ILO, 2000, 356 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
close this folder1. National policies and programmes
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folder1.1 STRATEGIC ACTION AGAINST CHILD LABOUR
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe problem
View the documentPrevention, removal and rehabilitation
View the documentPriority target groups
View the documentPhased and multi-sectoral strategy
close this folder1.2 DEVELOPING POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES ON CHILD LABOUR
View the documentWhy a policy on child labour?
View the documentPolicies, programmes and projects
View the documentILO standards and action through IPEC
View the documentThe first steps in policy and programme formulation
close this folder1.3 SETTING PRIORITIES FOR ACTION
View the documentEspecially vulnerable groups
View the documentMain policy and programme directions
View the documentDirect action and capacity building
View the document1.4 CREATING A BROAD SOCIAL ALLIANCE
View the documentAppendix 1.1 Terms of reference for a comprehensive report on child labour
View the documentAppendix 1.2 Ideas for group work in national planning workshops on child labour
View the documentAppendix 1.3 Example of a national plan of action on child labour, Cambodia, 1997
View the documentAppendix 1.4 Pointers to project design
close this folder2. Towards improved legislation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentINTRODUCTION
View the document2.1 LEGISLATION AND THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILD LABOUR
View the document2.2 SOURCES OF LAW ON CHILD LABOUR
close this folder2.3 INTERNATIONAL LABOUR STANDARDS AND NATIONAL LEGISLATION
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentNational policy
View the documentCoverage of the law (scope of application)
View the documentGeneral minimum age for admission to employment or work
View the documentMinimum age for light work
View the documentMinimum age for hazardous work
View the documentConditions of employment
View the documentForced labour
View the documentEnforcement
View the document2.4 NEW INTERNATIONAL LABOUR STANDARDS ON THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOUR
View the document2.5 OTHER INTERNATIONAL TREATIES
View the document2.6 INITIATIVES TO IMPROVE CHILD LABOUR LEGISLATION
View the document2.7 LESSONS LEARNED
View the documentChecklist 2.1 General principles
View the documentChecklist 2.2 Improving national legislation
View the documentChecklist 2.3 Legislation on bonded labour
View the documentChecklist 2.4 Involving employers' and workers' organizations, and others
View the documentAppendix 2.1 ILO Conventions on child labour and forced labour (as at 31 July 1999)
View the documentAppendix 2.2 Minimum ages in ILO Conventions
View the documentAppendix 2.3 Ratification of ILO Conventions on child labour and forced labour (as at 31 August 1999)
View the documentAppendix 2.4 Chart of ratifications of ILO Conventions on child labour and forced labour by country (as at 31 August 1999:
View the documentAppendix 2.5 Excerpts from selected ILO standards on child labour
close this folder3. Improving the knowledge base on child labour
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folder3.1 CHILD LABOUR STATISTICS: METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
View the documentData requirements
View the documentSurvey methodologies
close this folder3.2 BASIC RESULTS
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentHousehold survey
View the documentEstablishment survey
View the documentSurvey of street children
View the documentThe time-use approach
close this folder3.3 RECOMMENDATIONS ON CONDUCTING SURVEYS
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentHousehold-based surveys
View the documentSurveys of employers (establishments or enterprises)
View the documentSurveys of street children
close this folder3.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INTERVIEWING CHILDREN
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCreating the right setting
View the document3.5 FURTHER RESEARCH
View the documentAppendix 3.1 List of detailed variables in child labour surveys
View the documentBibliography on child labour surveys, statistics and related matters
close this folder4. Alternatives to child labour
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View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folder4.1 STRATEGIES IN EDUCATION
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEducating children about their rights and about child labour issues
View the documentInvestment in early childhood development programmes
View the documentIncreasing access to education
View the documentImproving the quality of formal and non-formal education
View the documentNon-formal education as an entry, a re-entry or alternative for (former) working children
View the documentApproaches to vocational education
close this folder4.2 PREVENTION AND REHABILITATION PROGRAMMES FOR CHILDREN FROM ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE GROUPS
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentChild victims of bondage, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking
View the documentGirls
View the documentChildren living and working on the streets
View the documentChildren of indigenous groups and other minorities
View the document4.3 EDUCATION PROGRAMMES AND INCOME OPPORTUNITIES FOR PARENTS
View the document4.4 WORKPLACE AND COMMUNITY MONITORING
close this folder4.5 LESSONS FROM EXPERIENCE: PLANNING ACTION PROGRAMMES
View the documentIdentifying priority target groups
View the documentConcerted action
View the documentSetting programme objectives
View the documentChecklist 4.1 Identifying target groups and selecting children
View the documentChecklist 4.2 Planning vocational skills training programmes
View the documentChecklist 4.3 Measuring the impact of action programmes
close this folder5. Strategies to address child slavery
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close this folder5.1 THE PROBLEM OF CHILD SLAVERY
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View the documentThe nature of the problem
View the documentThe extent of the problem
close this folder5.2 INTERNATIONAL ACTION AGAINST CHILD SLAVERY
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View the documentInternational Labour Organization
View the documentUnited Nations
close this folder5.3 NATIONAL LEGISLATION AND ENFORCEMENT
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentLegislation prohibiting forced and bonded labour
View the documentProblems in enforcement
close this folder5.4 ACTION AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreventing child slavery
View the documentAction against slave owners
View the documentTargeting children in bondage
View the documentIntegrated action to address child slavery
close this folder5.5 DEVELOPING COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAMMES OF ACTION
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentStrategy for action against child bondage
View the documentStrategy for action against child trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children
View the documentBibliography on child slavery
close this folder6. Strategies for employers and their organizations
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folder6.1 STRATEGIES FOR EMPLOYER ACTION
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPlanning for action at the national level
View the documentBuilding alliances
View the documentKey issues in project design
View the documentTen steps to enhance employer action on child labour
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
close this folder6.3 CORPORATE INITIATIVES ON CHILD LABOUR
View the documentLabelling or certification schemes
View the documentCorporate codes of conduct
View the documentIndustry codes of conduct
View the documentIOE views on voluntary codes of conduct and labelling
View the document6.4 KEY LESSONS FOR FUTURE ACTION
View the documentAppendix 6.1 IOE General Council Resolution on Child Labour
close this folder7. Trade unions against child labour
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folder7.1 WHY CHILD LABOUR IS A TRADE UNION ISSUE
View the documentThe history and role of trade union involvement
close this folder7.2 HOW TRADE UNIONS ARE FIGHTING CHILD LABOUR
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentTrade unions strengthen their capacity to address child labour issues
View the documentTrade unions support children, their families and communities
View the documentTrade unions raise awareness on child labour issues
View the documentTrade unions gather and disseminate data on child labour
View the documentTrade unions include child labour concerns in collective bargaining agreements
View the documentTrade unions advocate for codes of conduct
View the documentTrade unions work in partnership with NGOs, employers' organizations and governments
View the documentThe international trade union movement plays a major role
close this folder7.3 WHAT A TRADE UNION CAN DO
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentTen-point action guide
View the documentBibliography on trade union action
close this folder8. Awareness-raising
View the document(introduction...)
close this folderINTRODUCTION
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAspects of communication
View the documentProcess of communication
close this folder8.1 THE MESSAGE
View the document(introduction...)
View the document''Action against child labour can be taken now''
View the document''Prioritize the most harmful, often invisible, forms of child labour''
View the document''Positive action and international cooperation are needed''
View the document''Tradition cannot justify the exploitation of children''
View the document''Prevention is better than cure''
View the document8.2 THE AUDIENCE
View the document8.3 MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
View the document8.4 THE NEED FOR A COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
View the documentAppendix 8.1 Informing the public
View the documentAppendix 8.2 Popular theatre as an effective communications tool
close this folder9. Action by community groups and NGOs
View the document(introduction...)
View the document9.1 CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS AND CHILD LABOUR
close this folder9.2 PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE OF NGOs IN COMBATING CHILD LABOUR
View the documentTypes of NGO action
View the documentExamples of NGOs in action
View the document9.3 LESSONS LEARNED
close this folder10. Resources on child labour
View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folder10.1 GENERAL PUBLICATIONS ON CHILD LABOUR
View the documentILO reports for the International Labour Conference (ILC) and Governing Body (GB)
View the documentReports of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)
View the documentPolicy studies
View the documentInformation kits, training manuals and guidelines
View the documentAudiovisual materials
View the document10.2 SPECIAL THEMES
View the documentOther ILO publications
View the documentBack Cover

The history and role of trade union involvement

From the start, trade unions have worked for the prevention of child labour and the removal of children from the workplace, and for their placement in schools. The first International Workers' Congress in 1866 called for an international campaign against child labour and, with the establishment of the ILO) in 1919, the first Convention on minimum age for admission to industry was adopted. The fight against child labour has been part of the core mandate of the ILO since its inception and the labour movement has been identified as one of the key pressure groups for limiting child labour in the twentieth century.

The ILO's position is founded upon a range of international labour standards, the most important of which are the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 199 (No. 182). Convention No. 138 obliges ratifying States to undertake a national policy to ensure the abolition of child labour and to progressively raise the minimum age for admission to employment or work. It consolidates earlier instruments, and applies to all sectors of economic activity, whether or not the children are employed for wages. To complement the provisions of Convention No. 138 and to encourage the immediate suppression of the worst forms of child labour, the ILO member Stares adopted Convention No. 182 at the 1999 session of the International Labour Conference (see Chapter 2).

The development of protective legislation in the form of minimum age statutes, and the gradual introduction of compulsory education helped to reduce child labour in the now industrialized countries. Universal education was seen as a major factor in the development of a modern nation, and trade unions played an important part in lobbying for the transfer of children from the workplace to the classroom.

Box 7.1. Health and safety statistics from South Africa

"In 1991 in agriculture, 381 children under 16 were killed or injured at work, 50 per cent were temporarily disabled, 7 per cent were totally disabled and 1 per cent received fatal injury. Out of 3,730 children injured in the 16-20 age group, 3 per cent were permanently disabled and 0.4 per cent were killed. Children are more liable to suffer occupational injuries due to fatigue, poor judgement, insufficient knowledge of work processes and the fact that machinery and equipment are designed for adults."

(Department of Manpower, South Africa, Annual report 1991)

Involvement in action against child labour can also bring additional benefit to trade union organizations. Many unions have seen an increase in membership, and hitherto inactive or even dormant branches have been revitalized through these activities. Activities against child labour also bring trade unions into contact with workers in the sectors where they need better protection through unionization. For example, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) found that the campaign against child labour in the slate-mining industry helped develop a new approach to trade union activity, by reaching the workers through their children A worker commented that the image and credibility of the union had "shot up" and that the enthusiasm generated by the campaign was shared with other trade unions.

Trade unions can contribute directly and indirectly to the elimination of child labour in a number of ways. Evidence shows that there is little child labour in organized industries, and this demonstrates to other parties the benefit of trade union organization in the workplace. In addition, trade unions:

· are well placed to undertake information-gathering and to participate in national surveys;

· are often strong players in child labour campaigns;

· can negotiate collective bargaining agreements and codes of conduct to protect workers and children; and

· are able to monitor ongoing workplace practices and ensure that agreements are not abused.


Trade unions have a history of campaigning, and considerable experience of appropriate strategies to raise awareness and bring about change International trade union organizations can assist trade unionists at national level and support their organizations and campaigns.

Trade unions can also work in partnership with other unions, NGOs and employers' organizations (see Chapters 6 and 9). At the same time, such joint action assists understanding of the specific role the trade union movement is playing in the eradication of child labour.

While trade union action against child labour is fast growing, it is also important to acknowledge the difficulties some trade unions face.

In some countries it is difficult for trade unions to be a major contributor to activities, as awareness-raising is only just beginning, and the members are not necessarily sympathetic to the need to eradicate child labour. In other cases, where there are strict regulations on organizing workers, many unions have a range of other problems to face.

In order to understand the relatively slow start of trade union action against child labour in Indonesia, Thailand, and Viet Nam, and to explore strategies to remove existing obstacles, 300 trade union leaders were surveyed. Sixty-four per cent indicated that the most relevant role for trade unions was to raise awareness, and 15 per cent felt that there should be a focus on lobbying. While all respondents agreed that child labour should be the concern of every trade unionist, technical and financial resources were not thought to be adequate to begin campaigns or take action. In each of these countries, the fast growth in the informal sector has also made it increasingly difficult for workers' organizations to organize along traditional patterns. Fundamental workers' rights to organize and to establish collective bargaining agreements have been restricted in free trade zones, and there has been an increase in subcontracting, homeworking, and piece-rate work.

Similar constraints are found in other countries. However, campaigning against child labour can help trade unions address these issues through effective liaison with and education of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), employers' organizations and governments. There is evidence that where strong trade unions exist, the occurrence of child labour is less likely.

The examples in the next section illustrate the growing activities of trade unions and how they can contribute to the elimination of child labour, even given the constraints they often face.

Box 7.2. Gold mining in Peru

"In Peru, action is limited since there is no national mine union, only a small union in the north east which does not have full-time representatives, so it is difficult for them to participate in meetings in the capital. It is also difficult to conduct surveys and take action due to the geographical conditions. There is very little union organisation, more and more children are going down the goldmines, there are almost no teachers in these areas and therefore few children have the opportunity to go to school."

(Anne Brown, International Federation of Chemical, Energy,
Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM))