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ITUC African body calls for action against child labour on the continent

THE African regional organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) marked today’s World Day Against Child Labour by calling on the world to protect the rights and dignity of every child.

The annual International Labour Organisation day, first introduced in 2002, this year is themed as “Let’s act on our commitments: End Child Labour!”

In a statement, ITUC-Africa said that the continent “has the world’s highest incidence rates of child labour.”

The union body also said that Africa “has also been among those most affected by situations of state fragility and crisis, which in turn heightens the risk of child labour. 

“Worldwide, the agriculture sector accounts for the largest share of child labour. In Africa, agriculture accounts for 85 per cent of all child labour and 61.4 million children in absolute terms.”

It said: “Many African children toil in private homes as servants, in farming, construction sites, mines, garages, shops and other enterprises in the informal sector. 

“Some work and live in slave-like conditions, while others are forced into prostitution or end up in the streets of cities far away from their houses.”

Children are faced with severe threats to their health and safety, as they are exposed to biological, chemical and environmental hazards that often result in physical injury and illness.

General Secretary of ITUC-Africa Akhator Joel Odigie said: “These children are deprived of their fundamental rights to education, health, and a childhood free from exploitation. 

“As we commemorate this day, we call on all remaining member states to ratify ILO Convention number 138, which sets the minimum age for admission to employment or work.”

Mr Odigie said that ITUC-Africa was calling on “all African nations to strengthen their legislative frameworks, improve enforcement mechanisms, and invest in education and social services. 

He said: “We reiterate our time-tested position that children should be in schools, classrooms, and playgrounds and not in factories, farms, sweatshops, or on the streets.”

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