Child Labour

Working together to end Child Labour in Fiji

To strengthen efforts to combat child labour in Fiji, ILO supported a series of training and awareness seminars online. The sessions where conducted in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations. The interactive sessions saw active participation and contributions from Government ministries, employer’s organizations, worker organizations, CSO’s and faith-based organizations.

Press release | 12 September 2021
Labour officers from Fiji participated in the online training

Suva (ILO News) - ILO acknowledge’ s support from the Ministry of Agriculture who presented the 2020 Fiji Agriculture census findings and integrated insightful data for the training sessions, which included data from crop, livestock, forestry and fishing activities.

These trainings and awareness sessions have provided the platform for key stakeholders to share best practices which can be adapted and calls to action interventions that requires all stakeholders to take stock of current processes and rethink practical and effective strategies to ensure children are protected while Fiji is confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic. The main focus being strategies on how we can collectively strengthen existing mechanisms which will see children transition to school with very little or no disruption.

The Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Youth and Sports Honourable Parveen Kumar Bala, emphasised that the Fijian Government fully supports this series of trainings and awareness programs as it is a vital during this COVID-19 pandemic. This training has helped the participants exchange knowledge and find solutions to combat child labour in the Fiji.

The trainings were received with positive responses and more than ever inclusive action is required at all levels of society from the global to grass root level by everyone.

Minister Bala also encouraged Fijian parents and guardians to ensure that the best possible care and protection is provided to all Fijian children given the current situation.

As part of the International Year on the Elimination of Child Labour, the Fijian Government has made the following pledge for the eradication of Child Labour:
1. Formation of a National Child Labour Policy;
2. Review of the current National Employment Policy;
3. Finalisation of National Occupational Health and Safety Services strategic plan; and
4. Formulation of Paperless Labour Inspection Program.

The Ministry is working closely with ILO and its stakeholders in ensuring that the set goals and pledges is achieved for the betterment of every Fijian. The Fijian Government has also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) and has launched with the assistance of the Ministry of Women Children and Poverty Alleviation in November 2020 the revised Interagency Guideline on Child Abuse and neglect.

Honourable Parveen Bala further highlighted that the Fijian Government has also invested heavily in child protection programs and has ensured that our children get the best possible care as enshrined in the 2013 Fijian Constitution. This shows the commitment of the Government to end any form of Child Labour in Fiji.

Child labour is a global problem. At the start of 2020, prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest ILO and UNICEF’s latest Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward report highlights that the COVID-19 crisis threatens to further erode global progress against child labour unless urgent mitigation measures are taken. The report further indicates that a further 8.9 million children will be engaged in child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of rising poverty driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pathway to SDG: Target 8.7 has been long and much good work has already been done. But Target 8.7 deadlines are getting closer and the challenges we face are significant. With more, faster, and better action we can get close to ending child labour by 2025 and forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030.

The latest global estimates 160 million children – 63 million girls and 97 million boys – were in child labour (an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years); or 1 in 10 children worldwide. 79 million children – nearly half of all those in child labour– were in hazardous work that endangers their health, safety and moral development.

Director, ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries Mr. Matin Karimli emphasized all 187 member States of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182).

Convention No. 182 calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking. It prohibits the use of children in armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and in hazardous work.

Mr. Karimli added that this commitment by leaders sends the timely signal that efforts at all levels of society is required now more than ever to ensure that the voices of an additional 9 million children are heard who are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of COVID-19.

Let’s make 2021 for children. 160m children in child labour are waiting for you, TAKE ACTION!