Red card to child labour!

Statement on the fight against child labour

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the red card to child labour press conference, Blue Leaf Pavilion, Taguig City, Philippines, 17 October 2013

Statement | Blue Leaf Pavilion, Taguig City, Philippines | 17 October 2013
  • Secretary Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • James and Phil Younghusband
  • Partners from the National Child Labor Committee
  • Advocates in the fight against child labour
  • Members of the press
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!
Thank you for joining us for this press conference on child labour.

Today marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and also Children’s Month in the Philippines.

Child labour as a complex issue is directly related to poverty. Without access to decent and productive work, parents find themselves in vulnerable forms of employment.

They are forced to accept or to create whatever work is available, at the same time, to send their children to work in order for their family to survive another day. Yet, child labour is not only a problem of poor or developing economies but affects all countries.

Globally, the number of child labourers has declined by one-third, from 246 million in 2010 to
168 million in 2012 based on ILO estimates. While this is good news, the number of
child labourers is still too high - almost double of the entire Philippine population.

We are also talking about children in the worst forms of child labour - children in armed conflict,
in sexual exploitation, in agriculture, in private homes as domestic workers and dangerous areas, too hard to reach.

We are just two years away from the 2016 global goal of ending the worst forms of child labour. This will require strong political will and collective action.

Keep in mind that it is not just the role of government. Countries fighting child labour like the Philippines also have to bear the impact of natural disasters and post-conflict situations.

Here in the Philippines, there were over 3 million child labourers, aged 5-17 years old in 2011. About 99 per cent of them are found in hazardous work.

The good news is the US Department of Labor cited the Philippines as one of the 10 countries making significant advancements to end the worst forms of child labour.

Just last week, the global Red Card to Child Labour campaign was launched. Hollywood stars, international artists and athletes from the US to the Philippines supported the Red Card.

James and Phil Younghusband know that the Red Card in sports like soccer indicates a serious offense. You’ve done something wrong and you’re out of the game.

Today, you will see more than 200 former child labourers training and playing soccer, enjoying their childhood, while being given the chance to learn and to live a life with joy and dignity. This is contrary to children found over a decade ago in some countries in Asia, stitching and making soccer balls instead of playing and attending school.

This will not be possible without the commitment and support of the National Child Labor Committee, the government, employers and workers organizations as well as partners, companies, organizations, artists and athletes who donated their time, talent and resources.

Indeed, each of us, as individuals have a role to play in the fight against child labour – it can be as simple as holding up the Red Card to not buying goods and services involving children.

It can also be on ensuring that you don’t hire children as kasambahay or domestic worker to reporting cases of child labour, but rather support their families by ensuring the goods and services you buy are from firms that provide decent and productive work for their parents.

Remember, 3 million child labourers in the Philippines. This means 3 million reasons for us to take action against child labour just in the Philippines and more than 168 million reasons globally.

Thank you and Mabuhay!