While child labour has not been a problem in Barbados, Government does not ever want to see it occurring.
This is clearly implied in the message from the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour, which will be observed internationally on June 12.
The theme for the day is Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!
In emphasizing that it remains committed to the promotion of decent and productive work for all persons in the work-force, the ministry stresses that a key element in achieving this is “the education of workers, and by extension the wider public, on issues impacting the workplace, such as child labour. We cannot be complacent on this issue”.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.
Furthermore, research conducted by the ILO has shown that child labour is closely associated with poverty, the lack of decent work for adults, the lack of social protection measures, and a failure to ensure that all children are attending school through to the legal minimum age for employment.
Child labour has not been a problem in Barbados but in its effort to ensure it does not become a problem, successive governments have sought to address the issue, and in 2000, Barbados ratified ILO Convention No. 138 on the Minimum Age and No. 182 Worst Forms of Child Labour.
Worst forms of child labour have been identified as all forms of slavery, including human trafficking and debt bondage, illicit activities such as prostitution; pornography and drug trafficking and work that is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children
Worldwide, there has been a sustained global movement where a multiplicity of factors has seen significant gains made in eradicating child labour.
“There is still however much work to be done. Experience and research have shown that much of the decline in child labour can be attributed to policy choices and investments in education and social protection,” the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations states.
In Barbados, under the Education Act, Cap. 41, it is compulsory that children be in school between ages 5 and 16. Moreover, several opportunities are available for young persons on leaving school at age 16 or 18 to access tertiary-level education.
Investments such as these reduce the likelihood of children being involved in exploitative or hazardous employment.
On World Day Against Child Labour, the ministry also urges Barbadians and others alike to join in its commitment to protecting and ensuring the best quality of life for our future – our children.