Overview of employers’ roles in combating child labour

The roles of employers organizations in combating child labour

Employers’ organisations can lobby for the effective elimination of child labour by engaging in tripartite dialogues on the issue of child labor, providing advice on legislation and encouraging the government to ratify ILO child labour Conventions. In addition an employers’ organisation can encourage its members to stop employing child labour and to be more aware of the hiring policies of their suppliers, notably those in the informal economy. Employers’ organisation can participate in projects with NGOs and donors to withdraw and prevent child labor. Action on child labour by employers and their organizations globally could cover a number of areas as follows:

  • Awareness raising and policy development
  • Action to prevent child labour in specific sectors
  • Direct support for removal and rehabilitation
  • Corporate and industrial codes of conduct
  • Certification schemes or specific goods

Eliminating child labour. guides for employers.

The set of guides were developed by the ILO and the International Organizations of Employers (IOE) and were designed to help employers and their associations understand and take actions against child labour. The set guides, which offer practical ideas and advices on how employers’ organization could take action against child labor, consist of three guides:

Guide One: Introduction to the Issue of Child Labor. Guide one provides an understanding of the issue of child labour. It defines the problem and explains the causes and consequences of child labour. This guide also explains the ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138 and the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No. 182.

Guide Two: How Employers can Eliminate Child Labor. Guide Two is addressed to enterprises and explains their options and possible strategies for eliminating child labour.

Guide Three: The Role of Employers’ Organizations in Combating Child Labor. Guide Three is about the collective role that employers' organizations and other business associations can play helping their members on the topic of child labour.

Please visit International Organization of Employers for the guides.

How can employers’ organization work with ILO-IPEC? Some recent examples from Indonesia

The main employers’ organization in Indonesia, APINDO (The Association of Indonesia Employers) is a very active member of the National Action Committee (NAC) on elimination of WFCL and National Steering Committee (NSC) for IPEC Program in Indonesia.

In the first phase of the Project of Support to the Implementation of National Plan of Action, ILO-IPEC in Indonesia and APINDO had in partnership implemented activities which resulted in some good practices in contributing to the elimination of worst forms of child labour (WFCL), as below.

Improving ex child labourers’ vocational and entrepreneurship skills through apprenticeship program

With the ILO-IPEC supports, APINDO has implemented an apprenticeship program for older children (aged above minimum age) previously involved in worst forms of child labour (street children and footwear). 30 ex child labourers benefited from three month apprenticeship and equipments supplies in three sectors: garment, automotive (motor cycle), and food.

In implementing the program various parties are involved, among others: company members of APINDO which provides work places to do the apprenticeship, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration which provides consultation for the apprenticeship program to be in line with child labour related legislations, Non Government Organisations which ensure the welfare of the children while they interns.

Preventing child labour through promoting working condition

APINDO has also been collaborating with ILO-IPEC to promote working conditions through enhancement of knowledge and improvement of measures to support older children (15 – 17 years old) work in safer work.

Through a number of workshops and meetings with support from ILO-IPEC, APINDO has urged government to harmonize and coordinate labelling policy, especially for hazardous chemical materials which are commonly used in sectors where older children work. The harmonization and coordination of labelling are to respond to the fact that many products do not provide any information on the products’ hazards. Integrated policies and better coordination on labelling will contribute to promotion of working condition and elimination of child labour.

Work at the local level

Most of child labourers in Indonesia is found in the small and medium enterprises, or home-industries, producing cheaply for the local market. In Bogor and Bandung, West Java there has been cooperation between association of footwear producers and Bogor District Women Employers Association (IWAPI) to strengthen motivation, and increase knowledge and skills of women of micro scale employers and parents of child labourers on entrepreneurship through managerial skills trainings and elimination of hazardous child labor training. Increased awareness of the associations’ members on child labor will help reduce number of employers who allow children work in their enterprises.

Current and Future Works of ILO-IPEC in Indonesia with Employers’ Organisations

Many children in Indonesia still drop out of school and become involved in the labour force before completing their basic education. According to government data some 4 million children fail to complete the required nine years basic education and 1.5 million children between 10 and 14 are out of school and in the workforce. Some of these children are at risk of becoming involved in the worst forms of child labour, the most exploitative or dangerous work. National Labour Survey conducted in February 2006 found 2,749,353 children aged 10 to 17 years old in 33 provinces are working while National Labour Survey in August 2007 found 1,011,919 children aged 10 – 14 years working.

To address the above issue, ILO-IPEC Indonesia will continue its collaboration with employers’ organisations in tackling the problem of child labor in Indonesia. One of the areas to be pursued in partnership with employers’ organisations is mainstreaming child labour issue into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme.