Scandalous child labour figures shame the world

photo: ILO

For the first time since records began, the official count of the number of children in child labour is rising.

For 20 years, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has been calculating the figure every four years through household surveys.

The 2016-2020 figure estimates that 160 million children were in child labour globally – almost one in ten of all children. Around 79 million were in hazardous work that endangers their health, safety and moral development.

Although the percentage of children in child labour remained roughly unchanged, these figures mean that the total number of children in child labour increased by over eight million in the period 2016-2020, while the absolute number of children in hazardous work rose by 6.5 million.

The ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said: “What’s even more shocking about these figures is that they don’t include the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s no doubt that the health crisis has made things even worse.

“The scandal is that we have the answer to this. We know that we can tackle the scourge of child labour through a New Social Contract for working people, which includes a call to create decent work for adults and invest in social protection and inclusive services, such as care and education.

“Parents don’t want their kids to work. They are forced to do this in order to survive and because of the absence of quality education. No parent should have to make that choice. Working people deserve a New Social Contract now.”