Islamabad: Four provincial labour departments have agreed to draft a law to eliminate child labour from Pakistan. The new provincial law prohibiting child labour will replace the existing Employment of Children Act (ECA) 1991. The proposed new law which is in compliance with the ILO Conventions No. 138 and No. 182, will ban the employment of children below 14 years of age, and also restrict the employment of children less than 18 years of age in hazardous occupations and processes.
This has been agreed in a two day tripartite work shop organized by the ILO with the financial assistance of the European Union held at ILO office Islamabad from 8th to 9th February 2012. The workshop was facilitated by a technical team led by Mr Sujeewa Fonseka, Chief Technical Adviser of the Combating Abusive Child Labour II Project. The goal of this consultation was to enable officials of Child Labour Units (CLU) from four Provincial Labour Departments, to jointly develop and enact legislation to prohibit and regulate employment of children and adolescents in Pakistan. The existing Employment of Children Act (ECA) 1991 is not in line with the Government of Pakistan’s commitment made on the ratified ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age of Employment and Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour.
The participants of the tri-partite workshop have made four key recommendations for the new legislation. First) children under 14 years of age should be banned from employment; Second) children under 18 years of age should be banned from employment in hazardous occupations and processes; third) The list of hazardous occupation should be updated through tri-partite consultation on provincial basis; fourth) the law should also ensure adolescents’ right to minimum wages, compensations and social security benefits.
The workshop was attended by the Secretary Labour Punjab Mr Hassan Iqbal, Mr Javed Gill Central Labour Advisor Ministry of Human Resource Development, representatives of Provincial Governments of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh, the representatives of European Union, Employers’ Federation of Pakistan and Pakistan Workers’ Federation.
Secretary Labour Punjab said, “Child Labour is a social menace that requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders including Government, employers, workers and civil society to eliminate effectively from the society and thus it is necessary to address the grey areas in the legislation related to child labour. At the inaugural session Ms Margaret Reade Rounds, while representing ILO Country Director said that the ILO is committed to support its member states to take affirmative action to curb child labour, especially its worst forms on priority basis in line with the ILO Conventions that have already been ratified by the Government of Pakistan.
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