Steady Gains Made in Tackling Child Labour

Photo: Michael Sloley Director of the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Marva Pringle-Ximinnies.

Story Highlights

  • Steady gains have been made in tackling child labour in Jamaica by the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and other State agencies with a special focus on children.
  • Director of the Child Labour Unit, Marva Pringle-Ximinnies, tells JIS News that several deliverables have been realised since the partnership between Jamaica and the ILO.
  • In addition, a Legislative Gap Analysis was done, and laws such as the Child Care and Protection Act, the Trafficking in Persons Act, the Cybercrimes Act and the Child Prevention (Pornography) Act were developed.

Steady gains have been made in tackling child labour in Jamaica by the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and other State agencies with a special focus on children.

Since Jamaica signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2000, significant work has been done in addressing the issue.

Director of the Child Labour Unit, Marva Pringle-Ximinnies, tells JIS News that several deliverables have been realised since the partnership between Jamaica and the ILO.

“From that signing, Jamaica implemented a national programme and developed a National Plan of Action. As a result of that work, the issue of child labour became institutionalised within the Government’s framework,” she points out.

Jamaica also ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and signed on to two ILO Conventions – 182, which speaks to the worst forms of child labour; and 138, which speaks to the minimum age for admission to employment.

In addition, a Legislative Gap Analysis was done, and laws such as the Child Care and Protection Act, the Trafficking in Persons Act, the Cybercrimes Act and the Child Prevention (Pornography) Act were developed.

Furthermore, Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies says it is intended that the Occupational, Safety and Health Act will stipulate the types of work that children can and cannot be engaged in.

“There are going to be two lists indicating the occupations for which children can be engaged, and hazardous occupations that they are prevented from doing. The aim is to ensure that the activity is safe and it will provide them with the necessary skills and experience that will make them into more productive adults,” she says.

The Director notes that the subject has been receiving national attention through strategic public-education efforts by State agencies.

“We work collaboratively with the Child Development Agency, Office of the Children’s Registry and Office of the Children’s Advocate. We have achieved a measure of success in terms of providing information on child labour, and the call 1-888-PROTECT message has been very good,” she tells JIS News.

Despite the gains that have been made, Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies says there is more to be done, because there is still a general misunderstanding of child labour.

She suggests that child labour needs to become a part of the country’s data-collection framework, as this will provide “current and reliable data that will enable decision-makers to effectively plan and to come up with the necessary interventions and strategies that will be required to effectively impact the areas that we want to see the greatest effect”.

The publication and issuance of resource material for children and communities is another suggestion for early identification and action on child labour.

Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies also wants specialised facilities for victims of child labour that will allow them to feel safe in making reports, and where they can receive victim support.

According to the ILO, an estimated 168 million children are involved in child labour. Children aged 5 to 14 account for 120 million of that figure.

Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies says in Jamaica, it is estimated that more than 16,000 children are involved in child labour.

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