Unions Call for Political Courage and Stronger Governance to Eliminate Child Labour and Slavery

photo: Photo ILO

The ITUC has welcomed the outcomes of a major international conference on eradicating child labour, held in Buenos Aires, and called on governments to show the political courage to tackle child labour and slavery in line with the Buenos Aires Declaration which was adopted at the conference.

Statistics presented to the conference show that more than 150 million children are caught in child labour, and tens of millions of adults are subjected to forced labour. More than 3,000 representatives of governments, employers and trade unions, as well as civil society groups and regional and international organisations, took part in the event, from 14 – 16 November.

Union delegates called for more policy coherence, tax and trade justice, universal quality public education, universal access to social protection and global minimum living wages and in particular stressed the importance of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Where workers, including in the informal economy and in agriculture have the collective bargaining power to negotiate a living wage or income, families do not have to depend on income generated by their children.

In addition to the conference Declaration, delegates presented almost 100 pledges of concrete action. The global trade union movement pledged “to continue organising an additional 20 million to build workers’ power by the end of 2018, including through outreach to the most vulnerable – informal and domestic workers, agricultural workers, young, indigenous and migrant workers – and through creative organising strategies and new alliances”.

The ITUC also undertook to “take on the challenge of eradicating child and forced labour from global supply chains by working with global union federations to further develop transnational collective bargaining and campaigning for binding treaties in the UN and the ILO, for universal ratification of core labour standards by 2019 and 50 ratifications of the Forced Labour Protocol by the end of 2018 in particular”.

Unions welcomed the commitment expressed by Canada and Australia to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol and calls on other countries to follow their example.