Monday, June 15, 2015

500,000 children countrywide engaged in hazardous work - ZCTU

THE Zambia Congress of Trade Unions says over 500,000 children countrywide are engaged in hazardous work because of economic challenges that have mostly affected the vulnerable and working poor. ZCTU trustee Pembere Wadzanayi said the current situation had become a trade union concern because it had potential to deprive children a better foundation particularly in terms of education. 

Wadzanayi said poverty levels, which were contributing to child labour, still remain high at about 60 per cent. He was speaking at Mumu’s Chalets Garden Lodge in Kaoma during a planning workshop to assess the participation of trade union leaders in district child labour committees. He said the larger population of children engaged in hazardous labour was in rural areas and they were mainly employed in the agriculture sector at the cost of their physical, emotional, as well as moral wellbeing.

 Wadzanayi said poverty and inadequate education were the root causes of child labour which must be addressed urgently, especially in the rural context. He also said the HIV/AIDS pandemic had also contributed to the escalation of the vice. He thanked the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Irish Aid and other cooperating partners for providing ZCTU with technical and financial support through the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). And ILO ARISE national programme manager Mukatimui Chabala said an estimated 168 million children worldwide were engaged in child labour while about 75 million youths globally were unemployed and thus settle for indecent and insecure jobs. 

Chabala said although 92 per cent of child labourers in Zambia were in the agriculture sector, stakeholders should not lose sight of other areas where children were involved in hazardous work. She said Zambia had a relatively high number of children engaged in child labour compared to other countries with similar socio-economic conditions. Chabala commended the Zambian government for making positive strides to curb child labour by domesticating the ILO Conventions, which have been translated into laws that were now being used as a direct intervention. And Nkeyema and Kaoma district child labour committee vice-chairperson Nakweti Mboma said her committee was actively engaging the government to upgrade Chitwa Primary School located in an outlying area of Kaoma district, to curb cases of school drop-outs at an early stage. Mboma said children, particularly girls, who come to access secondary education in Kaoma central end up renting quarters and they ultimately engage in activities that endanger their lives in order to make a living. She said if Chitwa Primary School was upgraded, it would service far-flung areas such as Kamuni, Mulalila and Kalumwange, among others, which were prone to incidences of child labour because of the prevailing socio-economic conditions in these localities.

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