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ILO urges Ghana to domesticate international conventions on child labour

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Ghana has been advised to domesticate the various International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on Child Labour to make their application easy and effective in eliminating the worst forms of child labour from the society.

Mr Stephen McClelland, Chief Technical Advisor of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), Ghana and ILO, asked the Government of Ghana to turn off the tide that filled the labour market with children who were supposed to be in school.

According to him, the achievement of total elimination of the worst forms of child labour would remain a mirage if the remote causes, which included extreme poverty and high illiteracy levels in most deprived African societies, were not tackled.

Mr McClelland was addressing a joint national workshop organised by the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to launch the Employers’ and Workers’ Handbook on hazardous child labour in Accra on Wednesday.

He said domestication of the law was critical and asked that employers and workers came together to design and implement a national plan of action to be enforced in the communities.

“You can have the best policies and laws, but if it is not put into practice, it would be in vain,” he said.

He said the ILO, for nearly a century, had been setting standards for child labour and fortunately, Ghana was among the countries to have ratified its Convention 138 which dealt with the minimum age and Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour.

Yet, Ghana has not made much progress with regards to effective implementation of the convention, he said.

The 54-page Handbook, which was realised within the framework of the project on “Social Partnership and      Advocacy to Tackle Child Labour” and funded by Irish Aid, provides an overview of child labour as defined by ILO conventions.

It describes how employers and workers are working jointly to combat hazardous child labour in key sectors, such as agriculture, construction, mining and manufacturing, and makes suggestions on how its cooperation could be strengthened in the future.

The suggestions include the development and implementation of the national hazardous child labour lists, the establishment of workplace safety and health committees and improvements in collective bargaining agreements.

Mr Alex Frimpong, Chief Executive of GEA, who launched the handbook, expressed the hope that the outcome of their collective efforts as social partners would be more than their individual efforts as employers’ and workers’ organisations.

He said the GEA was committed to partnering the TUC to eliminate child labour because businesses thrived in healthy societies, but many social vices such as armed robbery, prostitution and drug abuse thrived in societies where child labour was widespread and retarded business growth.

He, therefore, said it was critical to protect children from all forms of hazardous works in order to preserve them as the future of the economy depended on them.

Alberta Laryea Gyan, Head of International Affairs, TUC, said the Union was determined to eliminate child labour because it undermined decent work and impacted negatively on the fundamental human rights of such children to education and total development.

The GEA and the TUC signed a Bipartite Declaration on child labour, to re-dedicate and commit themselves to the fight against all forms of child labour and also acknowledge that both employers’ and workers’ organisations have significant role to play in combating child labour among other things.

Source: GNA

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