This year on June 12th, the FTUC again calls for the elimination of child labour in Fiji and supports initiatives to report any such violations where children are exploited.
‘In recent times we have seen that poverty has spiraled upwards and families are left with no options but to let children do odd jobs and bring income for the family ” , National Secretary, Felix Anthony said. He mentioned that despite many systems to retain children in school, around 1157 students dropped out of school from 2016 to 2017. “This shows that we are not taking seriously the issue of basic and compulsory education for our children and that enough has not been done by the stakeholders, in particular the Ministry of Education to curb this drop-out”. Education receives one of the biggest budget allocations and this year the Ministry received a budget cut. “How are we then addressing this issue? What are the priorities of the decision-makers?”
Fiji has aptly ratified the ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age which prohibits employment of children under the age of 15 and ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour, defining which the circumstances in children should not be employed at all such as slavery, prostitution and drug trafficking. We are well aware of what the situation is Fiji is regarding these extreme areas of exploitation.
In 2015, the Fiji Trade Union Congress (FTUC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a resource guide for trade unions on child labour The booklet, titled ‘A Trade Union Guide to Eliminating Child Labour in Fiji’ is a practical resource guide to be used by trade union members to assist in the fight against child labour. FTUC was also part of the ” Tackling Child Labour Through Education” TACKLE project whereby we were able to assist parents and children to pay school fees, receive stationery and uniforms, provide counselling to parents and develop a network of parents- teachers as focal points to be vigilant on potential school drop-outs.
As part of our ongoing work to address child employment, the FTUC aims to conduct a training for its members who work with children or are in involved in workplace negotiations. The training will be held in Nadi on June 28th & 29th as a skills workshop where members will develop strategies to curb the incidence of child employment in Fiji.
We call upon policy makers to take it seriously to protect and promote children in getting educated and take urgent actions against any employer who employs children. June 12th is a day of reflection of on whether our societies and systems are adequate to address child labour or more still needs to be done.