Today, on World Day against Child Labour, 2017 the emphasis is on the difficulty of children held in conflicts and disasters, who need to be protected from the risk of Child Labour.
Children Fiji like most other Asia Pacific countries are vulnerable to matters of Child Labour and Child abuse. The first comprehensive efforts to eliminate Child Labour in the Pacific was made possible through the EU project, ILO Tackling Child Labour through Education (TACKLE), from 2008 until 2013. The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and its affiliate Fiji Teachers Union (FTU), was part of the Child Labour Project Advisory Committee including its tripartite partners.
Key achievements of TACKLE project has been establishment of the first Child Labour Unit in the Pacific, adoption of Child labour inspection systems and processes, regulation of the hazardous child labour list, withdrawal and prevention of children from child labour, information and database on Child labour, extensive capacity building, awareness and advocacy, and resource and knowledge sharing platform created.
Child Welfare Decree of 2009, was also legislated mandating all professionals (teachers, medical personnel and police officer), to report all cases of Child abuse, neglect and child labour to the Department of Social Welfare and education policies is available on Child Protection.
Fiji has ratified fundamental conventions, C138 – Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) in 2003 and C182 – Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) in 2002.
In recent years, a number of homes and schools have been destroyed in areas affected by conflict and disaster. This has led to increase in the number of school dropouts, Child labour and worst forms of child labour. Children have been abused, exposed to Child labour and worst forms in their homes, where protection is most vital. These children become victims and vulnerable to the worst forms of child labour.
Examples of worst form of child labour In Fiji, are engagement in street work, including commercial sexual exploitation.
In Fiji 787 child abuse cases has been recorded by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in the past 9 months and this has been the highest within the time frame. Our children have the rights to protection for their personal development, including protection from labour under certain circumstances, which may be damageable for their health, security, morality and development. Yet, around the world, there are still 168 million children in child labour, eighty-five million of them are engaged in hazardous work.
FTUC is working closely with the Fiji Teachers Union and its tripartite partners to continue advocating its fight to eliminate Child labour.
FTUC urges to its affiliates, colleagues and friends to join us in marking World Day against Child Labour!