Islamabad (ILO News)“Hazardous child labour is on the rise in most of the world among older children age 15-17” was reported at a workshop being held by the ILO this week. The ILO is drawing attention to this urgent issue by commissioning new studies in Pakistan to examine occupational risks to children working in ten sectors. Preliminary results show that one of the highest rates of injury is being found in stone-crushing where children’s lungs are damaged by silica dust and they suffer bone injuries. Amputations have been documented of children in small workshops and repair shops. These studies are breaking new ground in documenting psycho-social damage, eg in the brick kilns.
Representatives of Provincial governments from Sindh, Punjab, KPK, and Baluchistan are meeting for four days this week to examine the results of these studies and to develop strategies for addressing this urgent problem which jeopardizes the future employability of our youth. They note the importance of finding local solutions to what is already a global problem of youth unemployment.
This workshop is being conducted under the ILO project, Combating Abusive Child Labour, funded by the EU, now in its third year. Its aim is to strengthen the provincial child labour units and build a strong foundation of laws to protect our children and youth from hazardous work. In the workshop, three Provincial Governments reported that they have already commenced steps to identify hazardous processes and trades in their respective localities and have developed a list of work that is ‘off limits’ to children because of the danger it poses.
On this occasion, Officer-in-Charge ILO office for Pakistan, Ms. Margaret Read-Rounds, said “We are convinced that hazardous work of children in specified sectors can be eradicated, given a concerted effort by Government, employers, workers and civil society”. She also said, Pakistan has already taken note-worthy steps that need now to be expanded. She also highlighted that seven million people have been affected by floods in Sindh. There is need to highlight that children do not enter in Hazardous forms of child labour.
Mr. Sujeewa Fonseka, Chief Technical Advisor ILO-IPEC said that Pakistan will be gaining a new understanding of the extent and nature of hazardous child labour as it is planning to conduct a major new statistical survey in 2012. One of the major activities under the Project is supporting the Federal Bureau of Statistics in undertaking this survey.
Reporting on the global situation, Dr. Susan Gunn, Specialist on Hazardous Child Labour from ILO Geneva, said that the country is that by educating employers and workers about occupational risks, it is possible to protect young workers and ensure that they are not violating child labour laws, a concern of many international markets.
Haji Muhammad Javed, President Employers’ Federation, noting that employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace and decent work conditions for all employees, assured his organization’s continued support to the child labour elimination programme in Pakistan. The representatives of the four provincial government also assured their fullest efforts for setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace for safety and health.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Muhammad Saifullah Chaudhry, Senior Programme Officer, ILO, Islamabad
Tel: +92 51 227 6456-8, Ext 235
Mr. Zaheer Arif, Progrmme Officer , Media, CACL II Project
Tel: +92 51 227 6456-8, Ext 230