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  • Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, says Jamaican companies need to put measures in place to identify and stop cases of child labour.
  • She emphasised that the rights of children should be respected and that they must be allowed to remain in school where they can be educated to become productive and responsible adult citizens.
  • It was a collaboration between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the JEF, through funding from the International Labour Organisation.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, says Jamaican companies need to put measures in place to identify and stop cases of child labour.

“Companies that are at risk of being involved, knowingly or unwittingly in child labour, must have appropriate policy commitments that are embodied throughout the business with due-diligence processes to identify, prevent, manage and account for child labour impacts occurring in their own operations or supply chains,” she said.

The Minister’s address was delivered by Chief Technical Director for Labour, Damian Cox, at a business leaders seminar, held at the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) on June 29.

Mrs. Robinson said that while incidents of child labour in Jamaica are “nowhere close to the worldwide problem, we are not immune to the challenge and its devastating impact and, therefore, must play our part in combating the issue”.

She emphasised that the rights of children should be respected and that they must be allowed to remain in school where they can be educated to become productive and responsible adult citizens.

“The workplace is no place for our children. Our children belong in school. The challenge to you, as employers and persons in business, is that of demonstrating respect for human rights of others, including the rights of children,” she said.

Meanwhile, President of the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation, Wayne Chen, warned businesses not to become complacent, as they must work assiduously to eliminate the issue, as it has a negative impact on children.

“In the many positions that I have been privileged to hold, I see the impact of child labour especially in agriculture, where you see young people having to go to the market on a Friday. School attendance falls on that day. Yes, they are helping their families but it impacts their education because of the disruption. These children also sometimes work under hazardous conditions,” he said.

Mr. Chen added that Jamaica has done a remarkable job in eliminating child labour, but more is still left to be done.

The seminar exposed participants to issues such as employers’ risks and responsibilities, avoiding punitive measures and organisational risks as well as developing a workplace policy on child labour.

It was a collaboration between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the JEF, through funding from the International Labour Organisation. The seminar was themed: ‘End Child Labour in Supply Chains’.

The last Child Labour Survey (2002) estimated over 16,000 Jamaican children, under 17 years of age, as being engaged in some form of child labour, including the sale and trafficking of children, forced or compulsory recruitment into illicit activity, such as drug trafficking, child pornography and prostitution.

The majority of cases were identified in areas of agriculture, the informal sector and fishing. Instances of child labour were also identified among street children; market children, who sell goods for vendors; and children working in commercial establishments as well as child sex workers.

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