ILC Radio Round-up

Day 8: Countdown to World Day Against Child Labour and a ‘silent tragedy’ in the workplace

Patrick Quinn: ‘This is a huge operation’ for World Day Against Child Labour, plus making small workplaces safe

Audio | 10 June 2015
We’re now into day eight of the International Labour Conference, which means there are only three days to go before closing ceremonies on Saturday.

There are about 4,500 delegates registered and all 169 member states of the International Labour Organization are represented here in Geneva for the ILC.

The committees meeting to discuss the transition from informality to formality, employment creation and social or labour protection are making good progress.

Meanwhile, preparation for Friday’s World Day Against Child Labour has moved into high gear. The annual event takes place on June the 12th, and will be marked in 60 countries around the globe, culminating in Geneva during the ILC. This year’s theme is “No to Child Labour. Yes to Quality Education.” 

I spoke with Patrick Quinn, Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour about the scale of the occasion:

So this is a huge operation which involves identifying the issue, developing promotional and advocacy materials, mobilizing partners, working with the media as well as our constituents.

Quinn highlighted the added benefit of having delegates gathered together here in Geneva for the ILC:

I mean it’s a unique opportunity for the ILO. And so it’s great for us to have our constituents from around the world here to talk about the issue and to talk about what they can do to support action when they go back to their countries.

He also detailed a sobering statistic regarding child labour:

The number we’re highlighting this year is 120 million children, below the age of 14 who are still involved in child labour. Most of these children have got no access to school or they’re trying to combine school and work but often to the detriment of their education. And they end up dropping out of school.

So how can the ILO and the United Nations work together to stop child labour? Quinn points out the link to the UN’s sustainable development goals, which are to replace the Millennium Goals:

The new sustainable development goals being established in September this year are likely to include new targets on the elimination of child labour by 2025 and for all children up to the age of 14-15 to be in school by the end of 2030. So the two targets are linked. If the international community does not achieve the targets on child labour, it will not achieve the targets on education.

At a side event to the ILC today, European labour ministers met to discuss how to improve health and safety in small businesses, which employ most of the world’s workers. In the EU, 90 percent of all work accidents happen in small and medium sized enterprises.

Director-General of the ILO Guy Ryder emphasized the gravity of what he called a “silent tragedy:”

“I think the scale of diseases and accidents provoked by work is a silent tragedy. We know that more than 2 million workers die every year, 2 million every year, from occupational injuries and diseases around the world. And if this human tragedy, this human cost, were not enough, let’s remember as well that the economic cost of these accidents, these diseases, these failures, amounts to an estimated 4 percent of the world’s GDP. It makes good sense in every dimension to be acting to make a difference.”

Reporting for the ILO in Geneva, this is Carla Drysdale.