|Action Against Child Labour (ILO, 2000, 356 p.)|
|6. Strategies for employers and their organizations|
While child labour is widely agreed to be a consequence of poverty, it also perpetuates poverty: a working child often forgoes education and grows into an adult inevitably trapped into unskilled and poorly paid jobs. In fact, the poverty-child labour cycle results in scores of underskilled, unqualified workers. Employers are increasingly aware of the long-term negative impact that this detrimental cycle has on economic development and, as a result, are responding to the challenge of child labour and becoming partners in national efforts to combat it.
International attention is being focused on the issue of children's economic exploitation, with the media, consumers, investors, governments, and trade unions becoming ever more vocal. Individual enterprises have often responded either by dismissing child labourers or by coming up with new arrangements to prevent children's direct or indirect involvement in the manufacturing of their products.
Corporate initiatives to address child labour issues are in part also a reflection of growing regulatory pressures which employers face. For example, the European Commission operates a Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to regulate trade relationships. In 1995, the European Commission approved a GSP provision stipulating that preferential treatment may be suspended if beneficiary countries are found to be using forced labour, child labour or prison labour in the production of goods for foreign markets. In 1998, the European Commission began offering special GSP incentives to countries able to provide proof that they have adopted and enforced the standards laid down in ILO Conventions concerning fundamental rights at work. There have been parallel efforts in the United States to introduce legislation to ban the imports of products from countries and industries where child labour is used. Discussions have been held in the World Trade Organization (WTO) on a "social clause" in trade agreements which would result in the imposition of trade sanctions in counties that do not observe core labour standards as defined by relevant ILO Conventions. The issue was raised by various trade unions and was supported by several governments from industrialized countries.
In the light of mounting international attention on child labour, employers and their organizations can play an important role in mobilizing civil society to develop sustainable strategies. Employers' organizations are well positioned to provide more specific information on the incidence of child labour in various sectors, including in the informal sector. Through their affiliates, these organizations are able to convey to large numbers of individual enterprises, employees, and their families, the importance of promoting children's education, protecting children against work hazards, and keeping children from premature employment. In addition, national employers' federations have a great potential for:
· influencing the development of national policies on child labour;
· assisting in the development of guidelines for sectoral industrial associations and small to medium-sized enterprises;
· working with NGOs and trade unions in the design of relevant vocational training programmes for working children; and
· influencing public perception on the rights of children and the relationship between skill upgrading and national socio-economic development.
The International Organisation of Employers (IOE) has stated its commitment to the elimination of hazardous and exploitative child labour. Its action reflects the political will of its members as expressed in the Resolution on Child Labour adopted in 1996. This resolution calls on IOE members to raise awareness on the human, economic and social costs of child labour, and to develop policies and action plans to contribute to the international campaign for its elimination (see Appendix 6.1).
This chapter1 illustrates some of the various actions which national employers' federations and sectoral business associations have already taken and provides information relating to:
1 This chapter draws on material and case examples from the Employers' handbook on child labour, published by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE). Copies may be obtained from IOE, 26 chemin de Joinville, 1216 Cointrin, Geneva, Switzerland (tel: +4122 798 1616; fax: +4122 798 8862; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). See p. 327 for more details.
· development of policies and programmes to combat child labour effectively;
· concrete action taken by national employers' organizations;
· corporate and sectoral initiatives to combat child labour; and
· various codes of conduct and labelling initiatives.
As a follow-up to its 1996 Resolution, the IOE sent out a questionnaire to assess the scope of its member federations' activities in the area of child labour.
The majority of the respondents indicated that child labour is not a major problem in their own countries and that national legislation prohibiting the employment of minors is respected. Among those identifying child labour as a national problem, the majority indicated that it primarily occurs in the informal sector. Most stressed that where child labour does exist, one must take into account the underlying social, economic and cultural causes, and that attempts to combat it must provide sustainable solutions for the children concerned and their families.
Respondents also indicated that the majority of employers' organizations are involved in the issue of child labour as part of regular consultations with their respective governments on the application of national legislation pertaining to the minimum age for employment or work. The majority indicated that they had engaged in informal consultations and information exchanges on the problem in their respective countries, usually motivated by the increasing international media attention on child labour, and their concern that child labour problems might be linked to international trading arrangements.
A number of employers' organizations have already implemented programmes on child labour within the framework of the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). They play a critical role on the National Steering Committees established in each IPEC participating country, and are well positioned to become involved in the development of IPEC programmes on the ground to exert maximum influence over the national policy framework and the scope of activities envisaged.
Concrete actions by employers' organizations may take place at the policy, programme and project level. Although these components are closely linked, it is crucial to differentiate between the strategic progression of initiatives.
Policies, programmes and projects
An employer policy on child labour constitutes a public commitment to work towards the elimination of child labour. This policy must set clear objectives and priorities, and contain measures to ensure its effective implementation. The ILO's Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), along with its companion Recommendation (No. 146), suggests two priorities:
Convention No. 138 stipulates that the basic minimum age for employment must not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and, in any case, no less than 15 years or 14 years in developing countries, but sets a higher minimum age of 18 for hazardous work. Light work is allowed at age 12 or 13.
The new ILO Convention (No. 182) concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour establishes the priority for national and international action on these worst forms, which are outlined in Chapter 2.
Thus, whatever the level of development of the country, the priority should be the identification and prohibition of hazardous work, and other worst forms of child labour, which - in addition to slavery-like practices, domestic service and much work in the informal sector - can also be found in agriculture and urban-based industries, where the direct impact of national employers' organizations could have a potentially large impact. Through advocacy work, employers' organizations can influence their governments to make a policy commitment to the long-term goal of eliminating child labour, coupled with short-term measures which protect working children.
Policies are the first step. They have to be implemented through concrete programmes and projects. Some of the areas where employers' organizations can make a unique and important contribution to national efforts to eliminate child labour are in:
· identifying child labour in economic sectors and occupations;
· designing basic education and vocational training programmes;
· developing human resource/skill development programmes;
· initiating enterprise-creation/income-generation activities; and
· devising schemes to improve the working conditions of children as a transitional measure.
Employer-initiated programmes generally target several sectors within a particular community with a high incidence of child labour or provide a framework for a sectoral approach involving many companies. In designing specific programmes on child labour, national employers' organizations build on their strong links with sectoral business associations and industry groups. They enlist other partners to assist in project implementation, such as experienced NGOs, workers' organizations, and various social ministries concerned with labour, education, health and welfare.
Projects are the building-blocks of employers' programmes on child labour. Employer projects on child labour have selected specific target groups in particular sectors, using one or a selected range of interventions over a set period of time. Section 6.2 highlights examples of child labour projects addressing a wide variety of concerns in specific economic sectors, such as tea, coffee and sisal estates in Africa; the manufacture of steel, footballs and carpets in Asia; and the footwear and citrus fruit industries in Latin America.
Projects vary in objectives and types of output and activity. Two of the most promising examples of employer projects at the workplace or community level are those concerned with expanding the access of working children to education and training, and those whose primary objective is the provision of protected work and income-earning opportunities.
There are no "quick fixes" to the complex problem of child labour, which is closely related to the level of economic and social development in a country. Economic disparities between countries make it unrealistic to expect developing countries to afford the same facilities for their children as industrialized ones. Similarly, employers' organizations in developing countries are constrained in terms of available resources and institutional capacity. Nevertheless, employers' organizations have unique strengths on which they can capitalize, particularly in the areas of advocacy, awareness-raising, and policy development, and by forging alliances with other concerned stakeholders who have a proven track record in combating child labour and who share the same objectives (see Chapter 9). Many NGOs, for example, have been innovative and dynamic in the struggle against child labour and more employers are working closely with NGOs and trade unions as part of the civil society response to child labour.
The key initial goal should be to raise the problem of child labour - its characteristics, causes and consequences - before the board or management of the national and sectoral employers' organizations in each country, making it clear that this is an issue with wide ramifications on national economic, social and human resource development.
In countries which are starting to address their child labour problems, employers' organizations can take several steps. An employers' organization interested in joining national efforts to combat child labour can identify a member of its staff to serve as a "child labour focal point". This person can play an active role on the National Steering Committee on child labour and in national networks for the elimination of child labour. Initial activities may be modest and aimed primarily at information gathering and at increasing the awareness of the problem among its own members, other sectoral business groups, and society at large. Initially, employers' organizations can work alongside and support other groups active in the area of child labour, rather than embarking on a major programme alone. In this respect, linkages with IPEC national programmes are important in ensuring coordination.
Box 6.1. Building national alliances
Who are potential local or regional partners for employers' organizations in combating child labour?
· National and local governments
· Consumer associations
Designing projects consistent with the mandate of employers' organizations to improve the national business environment involves the following steps:
· identifying and assessing the problem (situation analysis);
· designing the project;
· implementing the project; and
· evaluating and monitoring progress.
Prior to any action, employers' organizations must identify and assess the problem, as well as the existing framework in which it can be addressed (see also Chapter 1 and Appendix 1.4).
The major elements of problem identification are:
· the definition and description of the problem (see Chapter 3). This requires an accurate assessment of the magnitude and scope of the child labour problem in a given area, such as the geographic distribution, the age, sex, class and ethnic distribution of child workers, the family and social context, and the wider social and economic context;
· an assessment of actions which have been taken in the past; and
· an evaluation of what remains to be done and what can be done better in the future.
This requires time and structured research, but is essential in avoiding duplication of action which other groups might have taken. The information required includes statistics or studies identifying the number of working children between the ages of 5 and 14, and 14 and 18, and their main problems and needs, as well as local school enrolment figures and drop-out rates. This information may be available from official government sources and local NGOs. The checklist below may be useful for problem assessment.
Box 6.2. Resource checklist
· What statistics or studies are available?
· How reliable are they?
· What action is already being taken?
· Who is involved?
· What are the economic sectors or occupations which might pose the most serious problem?
· What action can employers' organizations take on their own?
· What action can employers' organizations take as partners in a coalition?
· Does the country concerned participate in ILO-IPEC?
The next step is the design and implementation of a project with clear indications of effective strategies to reach working children. If a project is intended to provide non-formal basic or vocational education to child workers, the views of these children and their families should be taken into account. Project implementation may involve either the provision of direct support to working children, or indirect institutional support to other partners (e.g. community groups and local NGOs) who themselves work with the children concerned and their families.
Once the project has been clearly drawn up and the roles of each partner defined, a budget should be carefully and realistically determined. Budget details should be made available so that all parties concerned can understand the specific allocations for project support.
Long-term sustainability of action on child labour requires national employers' organizations to give institutional support to these programmes and to integrate them into the broad range of action programmes in other areas. The child labour focal points (i.e. groups of employers who highlight the issue of child labour in their respective areas) in each employers' organization may find it useful to plan regular team meetings with colleagues within the organization and with the cooperating partners. Stock-taking should take place at regular intervals to evaluate achievement, success, and failures. Any necessary modifications to project implementation should ideally be made during the course of the project. It will also be useful for employers' organizations to evaluate and assess their projects during their final stage. This information is valuable in identifying "best practices" to guide employers who are embarking on new programmes.
Ten steps are suggested to improve the participation of employers and their organizations in the campaign against child labour. They provide a logical framework for action, although many of the activities described can and should be carried out simultaneously.
(1) Institutional development. Designate officials in national employers' organizations and sectoral business organizations to serve as child labour focal points.
(2) Investigation: Collect detailed and reliable country-level data about the exact magnitude, nature or effects of child labour in specific sectors or industries.
(3) Awareness-raising. Conduct awareness-raising events aimed at particular sectors and the sensitization of society at large.
(4) Policy development. Develop policy recommendations on child labour to which employers' organizations and their members can subscribe.
(5) Coalition building. Form partnerships to carry out direct action in cooperation with NGOs and, where appropriate, trade unions.
(6) Prioritizing action: Based upon the information collected, select particular industries in which comprehensive programmes on the elimination of child labour can be launched. Action should be guided by a focus on the most exploitative forms.
(7) Direct support to working children: In partnership with coalition members, develop the role of employers' organizations in broad-based efforts to provide alternatives, such as apprenticeships, education, and training.
(8) Monitoring and evaluation: Establish systematic processes to work with focal points in specific industries to measure progress in progressively eliminating child labour.
(9) Compiling information on "best practice": Compile positive initiatives undertaken by local enterprises and business organizations.
(10) Communications policy: Develop a systematic approach to publicizing positive action taken by employers (e.g. newsletters, media campaigns, public merit awards).
Employers and their organizations, can take proactive and innovative steps to respond to the challenge which child labour presents. While concern about the use of child labour on the part of importers in industrialized countries is valid in view of mounting consumer pressure, instant dismissal of children may go against the "best interests" of the child if no alternatives are in place. This has been a key problem with initiatives focusing solely on the export sector, which is only a small part of the worldwide problem. Children should be removed from the workplace in a planned and phased manner to prevent them from simply being thrown unaided into a situation far worse than that which they left. Governments, employers' and workers' organizations, and other concerned stakeholders are beginning to work together towards responsible ways of transferring children from work into education, training and other activities which promote their welfare and development.
The range of actions on child labour taken by employers and their organizations to date can be broken down into the following categories:
· general awareness-raising and policy development initiatives;
· prevention of child labour in specific sectors;
· direct support for initiatives aimed at the removal and rehabilitation of child workers;
· certification schemes for specific goods; and
· corporate and industry codes of conduct.
Three examples of such initiatives are provided below.
Box 6.3. Employers' Federation of Pakistan
The Employers' Federation of Pakistan (EFP) has been actively contributing to national efforts to eliminate child labour. The EFP started by raising awareness of the characteristics, causes and consequences of child labour among its own members, beginning with the translation of international instruments and national legislation on child labour into local languages. It then created a network of local employers for the protection of working children. This network is supported by a child labour unit at the EFP secretariat in Karachi and comprises 20 focal points nationwide. The EFP regularly publishes information on the activities of this network in its quarterly newsletter.
The EFP is also involved in the employer-led Skills Development Council (SDC), which aims to promote the development of vocational training programmes which are flexible, demand oriented and cost-effective, with the maximum participation of employers. The SDC also registers school leavers, uneducated youth, child trainees and industrial workers, in order to identify training needs which will ensure the availability of trained personnel and provide better employment opportunities to trainees. Through the SDC, the EFP has been involved in awareness-raising and in exhorting local employers to improve the working conditions of children. The EFP has proposed that its office-bearers, the members of its managing committees, and the leaders of local chambers and national business associations establish systems to ensure that their own companies and those to whom they subcontract do not employ child labour.
Box 6.4. Employers' Confederation of the Philippines
In April 1997, the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) initiated awareness-raising activities among its own members and affiliated business groups. Its objectives were to obtain a better understanding of the attitudes and concerns of member companies on the issue of child labour; formulate an employers' policy statement to reflect the commitment of Filipino employers to the elimination of all forms of child labour; raise awareness and develop advocacy positions for leading business organizations; and develop capacity within ECOP to offer services to local enterprises in the area of child labour.
To accomplish these goals, ECOP committed itself to:
· surveying member companies to document prevailing corporate policies, programmes and activities that may directly or indirectly affect working children. This includes a special survey examining the linkages between the formal employment sectors and child labour, primarily in the form of blind procurement and subcontracting policies;
· raise employers' awareness and sensitivity to the needs of working children;
A child focal point is responsible for training activities in support of these objectives and for monitoring the progress of employer action to eliminate child labour.
Box 6.5. National Association of Colombia Industrialists
A number of employers' organizations have adopted policies in the area of child labour. One example is a resolution adopted by the National Association of Colombia Industrialists (ANDI) in December 1996. Such statements serve the dual purpose of bringing greater attention to the issue of child labour and of providing policy guidance to individual companies.
Resolution on Child Labour by the Board of Directors of the National Association of Colombia Industrialists
(a) That it is the Association's duty to foster the application and respect of ethical values among the employer community and society as a whole;
(1) That its members will not engage for work any individual of less than 18 years of age.
(4) To request the Executive President of the Association to continue supporting efforts to abolish the employment of children and young people in other sectors of Colombia's economy, and to assist in the design and implementation of rehabilitation, training and recreation programmes for displaced children and youngsters.
Once an employers' organization has established a general policy framework on child labour, it is possible to follow up with more focused activities in particular sectors (including the informal sector) where child labour may pose a particular challenge. Such action is preceded by an information-gathering stage in which sectors and representative business associations are identified as partners in the design of direct programmes to prevent child labour.
Five examples of such actions are described below.
Box 6.6. South Africa Agricultural Union
The South Africa Agricultural Union (SAAU), a member of Business South Africa (BSA), participated in outreach programmes with the ILO, UNICEF, and the Departments of Labour, Education, and Health, to examine the working conditions of minors in the agricultural sector.
It developed a policy on child labour which sets out the following conditions under which children may engage in light work:
· with the full consent of the child and its parents, preferably in writing;
The SAAU policy also stipulates that compulsory education should be supplemented by an effective schooling infrastructure to enable children in rural areas to attend school within reach of their homes.
Box 6.7. All-Indian Organization of Employers
The All-Indian Organization of Employers (AIOE), the national employers' organization in India, has taken a multi-pronged approach involving employers and their organizations, trade unions and workers, parents of working children, and opinion leaders. The project is being implemented in five cities/areas (Hyderabad, Pune, District Sagar, Chennai-Madras, and Ferozabad) with the help of the regional Chambers of Commerce. It seeks first to improve the working conditions of children while devising plans of action for the replacement of child workers with adult workers. The AIOE has appointed a senior staff member to serve as the focal point for child labour activities and to coordinate this work.
The chief objective of the project is the sensitization and modernization of industries where there is a prevalence of child labour. The sectors selected to take part in this activity were the bangle industry, the stainless steel industry, the bidi (cigarette) industry, the hotel industry, and small automobile garages and workshops. The AIOE collaborated directly with the Stainless Steel Manufacturers Association in October 1996, starting with a survey of working children, the parents of working children, employers of the children, and trade unions. The AIOE persuaded steel manufacturers that the use of child labour in their industry would result in the rejection of exports by developed countries. The members of the Association agreed not to hire additional child labourers and to start an educational fund for working children. Social workers helped to familiarize individual employers and the families of working children with the implications of the recent Indian Supreme Court directives against child labour. Employers began to support the gradual phasing-out approach, and to create better working conditions, on the proviso that they continue to receive encouragement and assistance from the Government.
The local Chamber of Commerce affiliated with this project - the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Madras) - has in turn developed its own action plan to combat child labour. It involves the following components:
· focused removal of child labourers in selected manufacturing units;
In early 1997, the AIOE organized a regional seminar in Chennai-Madras on the elimination of child labour in collaboration with IPEC and the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI). As a follow-up to this seminar, SICCI supported the creation of a permanent fund - financed by industry, chambers of commerce, employers of child workers, and other organizations - to maintain rehabilitation programmes for children. This fund is managed by a combined group of trustees drawn from each of the above groups. The SICCI is now monitoring other sectors in the region where child labour occurs, and continues to impress upon its members the need to freeze further child employment in their units, to devise plans for the gradual phasing out of existing child labour, and to establish strategies for the rehabilitation of these children, including flexible and relevant education.
Box 6.8. Federation of Kenya Employers
The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), during the initial phases of its programme, convened regional awareness-raising workshops in which it formulated and disseminated employer guidelines on child labour.
The target group of the FKE's current programme includes selected member companies, such as the Kenya Tea Growers Association, Sasini Tea and Coffee, Mumias Sugar Co., Chemelil Sugar Co., Aheroi Rice Scheme, West Kno Rice Scheme, Hotel Keepers Association, Sisal Growers Association, and Kensalt Ltd. The aims of this programme are as follows:
· assisting selected companies in formulating and implementing policies and an action plan on child labour;
The main activities which have been carried out under this programme include:
· conducting field visits to selected companies to evaluate the working conditions and hazards faced by working children;
· formulating guidelines for the Welfare Committee established in each company;
· preparing a comprehensive report at the end of the programme; and
· conducting follow-up visits to the selected companies.
A child labour unit has been established by the FKE under its Research and Information Department. A column on child labour has also been incorporated into the FKE quarterly newsletter. Employer guidelines on child labour have been issued, which focus on:
· adopting more aggressive methods of recruiting adult workers in labour surplus areas;
· providing longer and more frequent rest periods;
· providing protective clothing and devices, field shelters and subsidized midday meals, where applicable, as well as safe and comfortable transport to and from work.
The FKE monitors application of these guidelines and assists its members in formulating internal company policies and action plans on child labour which take their individual situations into account.
Box 6.9. Association of Tanzania Employers
The Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) started with raising awareness of the extent of child labour on sisal estates in 1995. An initial workshop gave estate owners and managers the opportunity to discuss child labour and the improvement of general working conditions, for example, through the development of piecework tasks organized according to the capacity of child labourers. One outcome of the workshop was an agreement by the participating employers to exclude working children from tasks which are dangerous and hazardous, provide protective gear, set up a cooperation arrangement with teachers and parents to curb child labour, and improve school enrolment and education standards in primary schools located on the estates.
The workshop also defined short- and long-term goals for sisal estate owners and managers. Long-term goals included action to improve labour inspection by providing inspectors with transport, and establishing credit facilities to provide opportunities for workers in the informal sector to generate income. Another was the establishment of secondary day school and vocational training centres, along with the establishment of dispensaries, welfare, and day-care centres. Short-term action identified by the employers included the provision of protective gear, introducing payment-by-results schemes to improve the earnings of adult employees, and prohibiting child labour in hazardous tasks. To ensure effective implementation of this programme, the ATE recommended that committees be established to oversee follow-up on the action programmes. These committees were recommended to be made up of the sisal estate owner, the regional labour and education offices, trade unions, and community leaders.
The ATE is currently working to assist its members in the tea and coffee plantations in Tanga, Mbeya and Arusha regions, where children below 15 years of age, including primary school drop-outs and others not yet enrolled in school, engage in harvesting. The ATE organized sensitization seminars for the owners and managers of six tea plantations with a high incidence of child labour in the Arusha region during which the ATE assisted its members in formulating action plans for the prevention of child labour and the protection of child workers.
Box 6.10. Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations
In 1993-94, the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TISK) conducted four seminars in Ankara, Adana, Bursa and Istanbul in which local employers assessed the causes of child labour. They determined the primary factors to be rapid population growth, an inadequate education system, and the economic and social structure of families. These seminars presented the situations of children working in both the formal and informal sectors and in large industries, while academics presented information on children's social security rights and benefits.
In a second phase, TISK focused on the small and medium-sized employers in the metal industry. This particular target industry was selected because the results of a survey carried out by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security's Labour Inspectors revealed that children working in this sector are at particularly high risk. Three industrial sites in Istanbul were selected to implement the programme. In each of these sites, 100 small-scale enterprises - a total of 300 employers - were reached.
In the course of field studies, information on the formal apprenticeship system was supplied to small-scale industry employers to increase their awareness of child labour issues. Surveys were carried out by the teaching staff of the Apprenticeship Training Centres to provide the best information on the system to employers. TISK encouraged employers to register the children participating in apprenticeship programmes of the Apprenticeship Training Centres of the Ministry of Education.
At the recommendation of the Turkish Ministry of Labour, TISK also focused on improving the working conditions of the children employed in the metal sector. Seminars were held in 1997 to identify appropriate measures, for example through the control of dangerous gases, improved ventilation of the workplaces, and the modification of ergonomic conditions. Several workshops were held for the purpose of outlining, with the cooperation of national experts and TISK member associations, the content and design of a booklet entitled The risks of child labour and the measures to be taken in the metal sector. This book was published by TISK in July 1997.
TISK has also published a book entitled Child labour in Turkey, which describes the activities carried out to date on child labour. It summarizes statistics compiled by the State Institute of Statistics, including information on the age of the working children and their economic activity, and gives an overview of child labour legislation in the country, as well as TISK's views on the child labour problem and strategies to combat it in Turkey.
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;
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.
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;
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.
A labelling or certification scheme aimed at the elimination of child labour, often referred to as "voluntary social labelling", involves affixing a ticket or label on goods to certify that they have not been manufactured by children. Labelling and certification schemes have been developed by many retailers and manufacturers who have come under criticism from civil and human rights groups for outsourcing to suppliers in developing countries where child labour is a problem. Some employers' associations in developing and developed countries have initiated certification and labelling schemes to prevent the boycott of their goods. The primary objective of these schemes is to inform consumers about the social conditions of production, and to assure them that the item they purchased was produced under fair and equitable working conditions, without the use of child labour.
According to an ILO study2 most voluntary social labelling initiatives share the following features:
2 J. Hilowitz: Labelling child labour products, A preliminary study (Geneva, ILO, 1997).
· the physical labelling of certain products, or of the retail outlets which sell specific products, by using either a descriptive label or a logo that has specific social meaning for its sponsors. The label or logo implies that certain social standards have been met in production;
· an outreach to consumers to inform them of the importance and social implications of purchasing the labelled products rather than any others;
· monitoring to ensure that the standards which the label promises to uphold are being maintained in the countries of production; and
· the collection of a levy from the retailers or importers to improve working conditions in the country of production.
Despite a number of common features, labelling schemes may vary widely in their objectives, target groups and means of operation. Problems most often associated with labelling include the limited extent of monitoring and inspection, the frequent lack of transparency for consumers and the unsure fate of the children working in industries targeted by labelling initiatives.
The ILO study suggests that labelling may offer prospects for helping some working children but must be used as part of a series of activities within a broader policy and strategy. This should include appropriate labour market legislation and oversight; the availability of educational and other alternatives for children; and awareness-raising among parents, employers' and workers' organizations, and the public at large. The study concludes that, within this larger picture, social labelling may establish a long-term place for itself as one way of helping children. However, the ILO is currently carrying out more in-depth research to assess the effectiveness and impact of social labelling on child labour.
Codes of conduct are commitments made by industry groups or individual companies to uphold certain labour standards in their own direct operations and in those of their subcontractors. Such codes (also frequently known as "codes of ethics") are principally aimed at international trading arrangements in which products for the developed world are produced in whole or in part in developing nations. Companies sometimes develop these codes in response to consumers who manifest their concern that companies based in developed countries may be producing goods in developing countries where inferior working conditions exist.
Some corporate codes of conduct are general in nature and cover issues of basic business ethics. These codes often do not discuss specific issues, nor do they include methods of enforcement (80 per cent of codes of conduct fall into this category). Certain companies have gone beyond statements of general ethics and developed codes of conduct which specify the standards to be achieved and the methods of enforcement. Codes can either be limited to directly controlled activities, or be applied to contractors or subcontractors who do business with the company. Companies generally develop a name to identify their codes of conduct - such as "Global Sourcing Guidelines" (Levi Strauss), "Code of Business Practices" (International Council of Toy Industries) or "Statement of Responsibility" (American Apparel Manufacturers Association). These agreements, which are entered into on a voluntary basis by the company or industry, are often important to the company or industry image.
In an effort to ensure a harmonized standard and coordinated action within a specific industry, several industry associations in both developing and developed countries have adopted codes of conduct to which companies within the industry may subscribe.
Selected examples are given below.
Although the IOE does not object to truly voluntary codes of conduct and Labelling schemes, it has made clear its opposition to officially sponsored, endorsed or promoted "voluntary" schemes which border on official boycotts. This is based on the belief that such measures risk trade distortion, and violate the spirit and possibly the letter of the rules of an open trading system. The IOE is opposed to the imposition of monitoring by an outside party of individual company compliance with a voluntary code of conduct, except where a firm or organization is voluntarily retained by a company or group of companies for the purpose of helping attain the goals or benchmarks of the code.
While the IOE believes that the intention of voluntary codes of conduct is laudable, it views such initiatives as often limited in their ability to address the root causes of child labour. This is due not only to their very general nature, but also to the difficulties encountered in their implementation and in the monitoring of their provisions. Corporate codes of conduct, whether they be broad codes of ethics or issue-specific codes focusing on child labour, generally do not reach children who are working in the informal sector in the most hazardous conditions.
Box 6.15. Charles Veillon S.A.
Veillon is a major Swiss mail-order fashion apparel and home furnishings catalogue company. In March 1994, a television documentary on child labour alleged that a major home furnishing retailer had unwittingly sold hand-knotted carpets produced by children working under dangerous conditions. At the time of the documentary, this company was one of the largest home furnishing companies in Switzerland, and Switzerland was one of the top ten importers of hand-knotted carpets in the world.
This incident prompted Veillon to accept a proposal by the Swiss-based Association Frans-Xavier Bagnoud (AFXB) to develop a supplier code of conduct and independent monitoring programme. The proposal called for a transparent standard on forced child labour and an independent monitoring system to verify suppliers' adherence to the new standard.
The policy developed by Veillon set two major goals: the elimination of child labour and the creation of conditions enabling children to acquire a basic education. In the initial stages of the project, Veillon discussed the policy with its buyers to ensure its implementation in a spirit of cooperation and partnership. In the second phase, the independent experts responsible for monitoring met with each of the partners to explain the monitoring techniques to be followed. It was also stipulated that the monitors would provide advice where appropriate on solutions to the individual challenges which each supplier faces in eliminating child labour.
Veillon explained to its partners that the monitoring system would involve ongoing cooperation with an NGO able to guide and advise companies in the area of child labour. Veillon obliged any partner wishing to consolidate its commercial relationship on a durable basis to respect the code of conduct and to agree to the monitoring of compliance with the code. In practical terms, Veillon stipulated that the independent experts responsible for monitoring must be able to:
· freely visit, with no restrictions whatsoever, all the premises considered necessary in the exercise of their mandate;
In 1996, Veillon's executive council agreed to make a contribution of 35,000 Swiss Francs to AFXB to support its ongoing child welfare programmes, which included the implementation of the pilot monitoring programme of Veillon's principal suppliers in India. Prior to this, AFXB had received no compensation from Veillon. The executive council also approved AFXB's recommendation to support MALA, a non-profit foundation which had developed an innovative project for working children in the carpet-weaving region of India, providing basic education to the children, along with hot meals and basic health care.
Box 6.16. The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry
The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WPSGI) has made it a priority over the last few years to address child labour concerns. In August 1997, the WFSGI unveiled a model code of conduct which was developed by its Internal Committee on Ethics and Fair Trade. The provisions of this code include the following:
· member companies and the companies to which they subcontract should operate under full compliance with national and local laws, rules, and regulations relevant to their business operations;
· member companies should take measures to ensure that no children are employed under 15 years of age (or 14 in countries with insufficiently developed economies and educational facilities), or children who are younger than the age for completing compulsory education if that age is higher than 15. No children should be involved in any employment which jeopardizes their educational, social or cultural development.
The WFSGI also encouraged its members to draw up their own specific codes of ethical conduct, building upon the industry-wide framework.
The IOE takes the view that employers can be more effective in making a positive contribution towards international efforts to eliminate child labour by joining forces with broad national-based coalitions to raise awareness and to provide long-term solutions for working children and their families. The IOE has stated that it will continue to work closely with the ILO's Bureau for Employers' Activities and IPEC to identify best practices of employers in the area of child labour and to provide technical assistance for effective employer action programmes which attack the problem at its roots.
Box 6.17. The Brazilian citrus fruit industry
In 1990, the Brazilian toy manufacturers established the Abrinq Foundation in collaboration with UNICEF to "ensure respect for the rights of the child in compliance with national and international standards". The Foundation aims to promote business involvement in proposals for addressing the commercial exploitation of children through political action in defence of children's rights and through the dissemination of exemplary business actions. As part of the strategy to combat child labour, Abrinq developed a "Child Friendly Corporation Seal" which is awarded to companies who do not employ children under the age of 14.
The Abrinq Foundation approached potential partners at the national level, among which was the Citrus Fruit Exporters (ABECITRUS). Following initial contact, ABECITRUS called for a meeting of its members to discuss with the Abrinq Working Group for Children and Adolescents the development of a campaign for the eradication of child labourers in the citrus fruit industry.
On 28 May 1996, ABECITRUS signed a "Terms of Commitment" document with Abrinq and the State Government to collaborate with them in their campaign to eradicate child labour in rural activities and in their actions to provide schooling for all children and adolescents under the age of 14. In this agreement ABECITRUS and Abrinq agreed to:
· recommend to its associates that they require all suppliers and other components of the production network not to employ children in the production chain;
The Terms of Commitment indicated that failure to comply with these stipulations would result in the termination of business and service contracts.
ABECITRUS organized the First Mobilization Seminar for the Municipal Councils of Children and Adolescents' Rights - "Children Should be at School" - together with UNICEF, the ILO, the Abrinq Foundation, the Brazilian Municipal Administration Institute (IBAM) and the Municipal Council of the City of Araraquara in June 1996. The Araraquara Pact was signed on this occasion by 18 cities to support a programme for the progressive elimination of child labour in the citrus fruit-producing region of the State of SPaulo. This Pact, and the accompanying Plan for the Eradication of Child Labour in the Citrus Fruit Producing Region of the State of SPaulo, seeks to return children to school and to devise means to maintain them there, including complementary school programmes, family guidance programmes, and income-generation schemes.
For employers' organizations which become involved in the process of developing codes, the IOE suggests that they could usefully take the following steps:
· carry out a survey of what other codes on child labour exist in the country;
· prepare a study of existing codes in order to standardize industry strategies;
· provide assistance in the drafting of model voluntary codes;
· provide assistance with the implementation of verification procedures; and
· organize training courses for concerned parties in the implementation of these codes.
The examples in this report show that where employers' organizations are active players in local and national initiatives to combat child labour, they can be instrumental in raising society's awareness of the problem and can make valuable contributions to broad social alliances to provide long-term solutions. Over the long term, their actions can make a positive difference for the children toiling today in hazardous and exploitative working conditions in both the formal and the informal sectors. Several key lessons have been reported by employers taking action against child labour.3
3 Employers' handbook on child labour, op. cit.
The first key lesson is that it makes better financial and business sense for employers and their organizations to be involved in the issue of child labour proactively rather than reactively. While programmes which aim at the removal and rehabilitation of child labourers are often crucial - particularly in situations where children are working in hazardous and exploitative situations - they are at the same time extremely costly and complex, and tend to attack the symptoms of the problem rather than its roots. For this reason, employers and their organizations should not wait until they are pressured by outside groups to assess the child labour situation in their own industries. Instead, they should identify and enlist the support of other partners -governments, international and national organizations - with whom they can work together to identify how best to collaborate and to prevent child labour problems. In this respect, through their central employers' organizations, companies and sectoral organizations can directly approach IPEC for assistance in the area of policy development and action implementation.
A second key lesson concerns the importance of building effective alliances. No concerned member of civil society can hope to fulfil alone all the possible functions necessary to effectively curb and progressively eliminate child labour on a global scale. Because of their influential contacts in society, many employers' organizations have a comparative advantage in the areas of public advocacy and policy development. NGOs, which are generally issue specific, have a comparative advantage in designing social support programmes. For their part, most trade unions have a comparative advantage in raising social awareness of the issue. The examples of successful employer initiatives presented above were implemented through a broad coalition of actors working together. It is recommended therefore that companies and employers' organizations involve other like-minded partners in the design and implementation of any action to combat child labour.
The third key lesson is the importance of prioritizing action. There is now a much greater awareness of the scope and magnitude of child labour than ever before. The total eradication of this problem will demand significant resources and concentrated action over the foreseeable future. This, however, should not be used as an excuse for apathy. The role of employers and their organizations is crucial in identifying industries and/or sectors that pose the greatest risks to working children. Employers can begin by playing an active role in promoting the ratification of Convention No. 182 and the implementation of measures also suggested in Recommendation No. 190. These instruments will serve as the cornerstone of international efforts to eliminate child labour, beginning with its most intolerable forms. They place the immediate suppression of extreme forms of child labour as the main priority for national and international action for the abolition of child labour.
The General Council of the International Organisation of Employers,
Having met in Geneva on 3 June 1996 for its 73rd ordinary session,
Considering that one of the most disturbing aspects of poverty is the necessity for poor families to rely on the labour of their children,
Considering that, although the problem is complex and requires long-term action for its prevention and progressive elimination, its most intolerable aspects - namely the employment of children in slave-like and bonded conditions and in dangerous work - must be abolished immediately and unconditionally,
Concerned that children without education are denied opportunities to develop their full potential and can constrain the social and economic development of their countries,
Aware that the long-term solution to the problem lies in sustained economic growth leading to social progress, in particular poverty alleviation and universal education,
Noting that, although the solution to the problem requires the active and coordinated involvement of society as a whole, with government playing a critical role through its development plans and special education programmes, the business community has a significant contribution to make,
Noting that, while enterprises and business organizations, along with other groups in society, are concerned about child labour and have adopted policies and taken action to improve the situation of working children, further concerted action is required,
Recognizing that the positive actions taken by employers have not been adequately acknowledged and in some cases employers have been subject to unfair accusations,
Noting that simplistic solutions, which can merely throw children out of work without providing alternative means of livelihood for them and their families, often put the children concerned in a worse situation,
Further concerned that attempts to link the issue of working children with international trade and to use it to impose trade sanctions on countries where the problem of child labour exists are counterproductive and jeopardize the welfare of children,
Resolves this 3rd day of June 1996 to:
Raise awareness of the human cost of child labour as well as its negative economic and social consequences.
Put an immediate end to slave-like, bonded and dangerous forms of child labour while developing formal policies with a view to its eventual elimination in all sectors.
Translate child labour policies into action plans at the international, national, industry and enterprise levels.
Implement the plans, taking care to ensure that the situation of the children and their families is improved as a result.
Support activities targeted at working children and their families, such as the establishment of day care centres, schools and training facilities, including training of teachers, and initiate such activities wherever possible.
Encourage and work with local and national government authorities to develop and implement effective policies designed to eliminate child labour.
Promote access to basic education and primary health care, which are crucial to the success of any effort to eliminate child labour.
Calls on the IOE Executive Committee to:
a. Create a database on companies and organizations active in combating child labour.
b. Develop and distribute an Employer Handbook addressing child labour developments.
c. Receive periodic reports from the IOE membership on their initiatives and other developments in the area of child labour.
d. Report to the General Council on an annual basis as to work being done in combating child labour.