This year, the World Day Against Child Labour teamed up with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work (SafeDay) to focus on improving the health and safety of young workers and to put an end to child labour. They aim to accelerate the requirements outlined in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.8; to “protect labor rights and promote safe, and secure working environments of all workers, including migrant workers, particularly women migrants, and those in precarious employment”. They have outlined a goal to create “safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030”.
How many people does Child Labour Effect?
Currently, there are 168 million children engaged in child labour worldwide. This is about half of the entire population of the United States, which is forced to work in conditions “for which the child is either too young or work which, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is altogether considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited”.
So what does this mean? The first part is determined by international regulations, if a worker is below the minimum age requirement for example, anyone must be at least 18 to work in mining industry. Anyone employed below this age would therefore be considered to be breaking international labour law regulations.
The second part refers to the conditions in which child labour often occurs, either in terms of the long hours they work, the poor pay rates or the education and health detriments which may arise from their job. This astounding 168 million children are often forced to work in conditions which continue the cycle of poverty. For example, children are often removed from school in order to fulfill their work, and are then condemning themselves to a life of economic slavery.
Health & Safety Issues
In terms of health and safety, young workers (15-24 year olds) suffer up to 40 per cent higher rates of nonfatal occupational injuries than adult workers above the age of 25. In addition to injuries, the workplace hazards they face often put their health and very lives at risk. The machinery kids are forced to use in factories is often hazardous, and in fact approximately 73 million children worldwide are considered to be doing hazardous work.
Child Labour in the Garment Industry
The garment industry is one of the largest sources of child labour. Fast fashion has encourage child labour by pushing companies to find ever-cheaper sources of labour and production to satisfy demand in first world countries. Children are viewed as obedient, unable to advocate for their rights, and will therefore not cause issues for their boss. In some cases children are even considered to be better at doing jobs, because of their small hands. When dealing with the issue of child labour, the garment industry is one of the key industries to change.
Change the products you buy. Inform yourself on these issues. Spread your knowledge. Influence the way the industry works as a consumer. Help eradicate child labour starting today.
To learn more about the role child labour plays in the garment industry, check out these links: