22,000 children killed at work globally per annum – ILO

…Guyana making strides in combatting issue of child labour despite high rate

Despite the advances that countries like Guyana have made over the years in eliminating child labour, this issue is still one of major concern. Here in Guyana, about nine per cent of children between the ages of five and 14 are involved in some form of child labour.
This is according to UNICEF representative in Guyana, Sylvie Fouet, who during the launch of the Child Labour Policy on Friday stated that it is public knowledge that many children in Guyana are engaged in child labour for various reasons.
“We know that there are victims of child labour. So it’s not a theory, it’s reality in Guyana. And child labour in Guyana, the rate in Guyana is a little higher than average in Latin American and Caribbean countries. It’s about nine per cent, much with the global trend, one out of every 10. Now we are talking about children not even 14-18, we are talking below 14 and this is very important to be mindful.”
Fouet noted that her agency has provided Guyana with $7.1 million to support a work programme from 2017 to 2021 that targets this worrying issue.
Meanwhile, representative from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Claudia Coenjaerts pointed out that Guyana has made strides in tackling this global issue but there is still a lot of work to be done towards the elimination of child labour by 2025.
“Guyana was one of the first countries in 2014 to sign up to a regional initiative around Latin America and the Caribbean, free of child labour. Right now we have grown from 23 to 30 countries, seven more Caribbean member states joined. The policy produced with support from UNICEF now provides really a coherent framework and its implementation [is] going to be very important,” she stated.
Additionally, representative of the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry (CAGI), Earl Morris explained that statistics reveal that over 152 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour.
“Sixty-four million girls and eight million boys are in absolute terms in hazardous jobs that place them directly in the line of danger. The children concerned should be at school, being educated and preparing themselves for the future so that they can take care of themselves and those around them and make meaningful contributions to their countries. By entering the labour market permanent, these children are deprived of many things,” Morris explained.
According to the ILO, child labour occurs in almost all sectors, yet 7 out of every 10 of these children are working in agriculture.
However, not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive.
“This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.”
The ILO website states that the term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
“It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.”
In the category of hazardous child labour, which is the worst form of child labour globally, millions of children are working in dangerous conditions in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, as well as in hotels, bars, restaurants, markets, and domestic service.
Worldwide, the ILO estimates that some 22,000 children are killed at work every year. The numbers of those injured or made ill because of their work are not known.