|Issue No 92||20 April 2001|
Governments Urged On Child Slavery
Following the events in Benin, where a ship allegedly carrying 250 child slaves docked safely in Cotonou, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has urged its affiliates in West Africa to step up the pressure on their governments to end child slavery.
The call comes just as the ICFTU has launched a new global campaign to end child labour.
The ICFTU and its African regional organisation, AFRO has welcomed the decision by the government of Benin to investigate the incident, and whether or not the boat had been carrying hundreds of child slaves.
Whatever the outcome of the investigation, the ICFTU notes that the events have served to highlight a very real problem which, according to UNICEF, involves some 200,000 children from western and central Africa annually.
"We are deeply concerned about the terrible circumstances in which children are being forced to work against their will.
"Governments and employers must ensure that no child is being abducted or sold for work in plantations, or anywhere else.
"This is precisely the kind of exploitation which ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour is designed to eliminate.
"The latter must now be implemented by member states to protect the weakest and most exploited young children who are sold as slaves and on whose backs enormous profits are being made", said Bill Jordan, General Secretary of the ICFTU.
The ICFTU's global campaign to stop child labour was launched on March 30, involving all levels of the trade union movement and like-minded non-governmental organisations.
Campaign Teams on all five continents will work closely together with the ILO and NGOs and build community alliances to fight child labour.
In Africa, the ICFTU has urged its affiliates to step up the pressure on their governments to ratify and implement ILO Convention 182.
The ICFTU has urged the governments of Benin, Gabon, Niger and Ivory Coast to take immediate action to stop the trade of children by taking concrete measures such as stepping up inspections in cotton and cocoa plantations to ensure they are child labour free.
The ICFTU has received reports that governments are already responding to the international community's call, such as Ivory Coast where legislation to ban child labour is currently on its way through parliament.
Pressure is also increasing thanks to the petition launched as part of the ICFTU's global child labour campaign, which calls on all governments to ratify and implement ILO Conventions 138 and 182 on child labour.
Anyone who wishes to support the campaign to end child labour can do so by clicking on the link and signing the petition.
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Corporate: The Real Rorters
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Legal: In the Real World
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International: The Docklands and Global Labour
Ma Wei Pin and Jasper Goss recount how the struggle of a group of Indonesian hotel workers effected a lucrative Melbourne contract.
History: Sweatshops in America
Since the dawning of the Industrial Revolution, many generations of Americans have toiled in sweatshops.
Unions: Losers Never Start
At the end of her six week vigil, Grenadier delegate Michelle Booth gave her heartfelt thanks to the trade union movement.
Review: Working Classes: Global Realities
The Socialist Register 2001 looks at class realities and the lives of workers in the new century.
Satire: Democrats Change Leader
The Democrats have a new leader after belatedly discovering that Meg Lees had become the second Democrats leader in a row to defect to another party.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005