Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados labour officials learn best practices for eliminating child labour

Innovative techniques offered through seminar series delivered by ILO and South-South partners

News | 22 December 2020
Over 100 labour officers and other national stakeholders from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados are now better equipped to design and deliver interventions to address the prevention and elimination of child labour, especially the worst forms of child labour.

They participated in two national seminars organized and hosted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Caribbean Office, in collaboration with the Regional Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour and the respective national Ministries responsible for Labour. The series re-engaged national stakeholders to ensure attention on the issue, especially in the context of the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and teens, to prevent possible regressive effects.

Each three-day seminar was tailored to the specific national context and opened with feature remarks by high-level Ministry officials including the Honourable Colin E. Jordan, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations for Barbados, as well as Ms. Natalie Willis, Permanent Secretary (Ag.) of the Ministry of Labour for Trinidad and Tobago.
 
“The ILO and partners planned this seminar series to complement and support ongoing national efforts to address child labour and the worst forms of child labour. It is a matter which has gained even more urgency, especially in the context of pandemic recovery and in light of the 2025 deadline for achieving SDG Target 8.7 to eliminate child labour in all its forms,” explained Resel Melville, ILO Caribbean National Project Coordinator and Child Labour Focal Point, who facilitated the sessions.

The programme for Trinidad and Tobago’s virtual workshop (24-26 November) was developed in collaboration with the country’s inter-ministerial / inter-sectoral National Child Labour Steering Committee. Sessions focused on how to strengthen the capacity of the labour inspectorate to identify child labour and enforce national provisions through improved approaches, tools and templates. It also provided recommendations for inter-ministerial and inter-sectoral partnerships, coordination and communication to address child labour and best practices in labour inspection.
 
Barbados has a robust compliance and enforcement of mandatory education, minimum age for work and other child protection laws. Nonetheless, the virtual seminar (8-10 December) provided an opportunity to gain new insights and exchange experiences and good practices in preventing child labour and protecting children, with peers in the region.
 
During his speech, Minister Jordan indicated that there are no reported cases of child labour in Barbados. He also emphasized that everyone has a duty to protect children and reiterated the country’s Labour Department commitment to applying the laws of Barbados and ILO Conventions. 

“Let me stress that child labour is not only wrong on moral grounds but it is a threat to the notion of decent work, and challenges efforts to promote sustainable economic growth,” he said.

Target participants included a cross-section of officials including labour inspectors, law enforcement officers, labour market information experts, social workers, public sector educators and communications representatives.  Social partners (workers and employers organizations), civil society actors and other United Nations agencies also attended.
 
During both events, experts delivered the live, highly interactive, online sessions via Zoom. A suite of self-paced learning materials complemented the training. Participants engaged in intra-Caribbean South-South knowledge exchange with counterparts from Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname who discussed their national campaigns to improve how child labour can be identified, prevented, monitored and eliminated. They provided participants with details on how they are developing and implementing various national strategies and programmes.

In the Trinidad workshop, Brazilian labour inspector, and child labour focal point within the ILO Regional Initiative, Roberto Padhilla, also shared the labour inspection practices that have been effective in combating child labour in that country. Many labour inspection actions in Brazil such as the mobile inspection groups are a reference point for Latin America and the Caribbean and for other regions of the world.
 
Between 2018 and 2019, Brazil supported the implementation of a South-South cooperation project focused on supporting Caribbean countries to combat child labour and strengthen school to work transition as a preventive approach. Participating countries included The Bahamas, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

"I hope this meeting is just the beginning of a new phase of South-South cooperation between Brazil and the Caribbean region," said Fernanda Barreto, Coordinator of the Brazil-ILO South-South Cooperation Programme.

 “Bringing new ideas to the table from countries around the region, South-South Cooperation has been proven to be an effective modality for seeding sustainable change in the Caribbean; as we share lessons and adapt good practices we are seeing notable progress towards our common goal of ending child labour,” concluded Resel Melville.