Ministry of Labour and Social Security Addressing Child Labour Issues


The Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), will launch a Child Labour Project on Wednesday (February 4), to address the issue of child labour in Jamaica,.
Speaking in an interview with JIS news, Director of the Ministry’s Child Labour Unit, Mrs. Marva Ximminies said that one of the main aims of the project is to strengthen the legal framework that now exists.
“The objectives of this launch are to look at the legal framework that currently exists and to strengthen where possible…there is also the need for advocacy so that the loop holes can be filled,” she said.
According to her, the Ministry will also seek to improve upon its information capacity. Findings from a study in 2000 showed that the public knows very little about the child care and protection act, she said.
“Another aim is to strengthen and improve upon the information capacity of the Ministry, to create a general awareness because, from the findings (in 2000), it shows that the public knows little”, she asserted.
Jamaica has signed two ILO conventions which deals with the worst forms of labour; Convention 138, which provides for a minimum age at which children are supposed to be employed; and Convention 182.
She said that this led to the Child Care and Protection Act, which says that no child under the age of thirteen is supposed to be employed, although between 13 and 15 they can be engaged in light work under conditions prescribed by the Ministry.
Findings from the study show that there are approximately 16000 children engaged in economic activities.
“A study was carried out in 2000 (the Youth Activity Survey) and, before that, we had undertaken one on child labour. The findings suggested that there were a little over 16000 children, aged 5-17, who were engaged in some form of economic activity,” she said. Among these, about 7000 were found to be engaged in the worst forms of child labour, she disclosed.
“Generally speaking the study shows children working in the urban centres. so anywhere you can find a town centre that’s where you have the greatest concentration of those children,” she explained.
Citing the need for integration and institutional strengthening, the Director said that there will be collaboration between the Labour and Education Ministries to reduce the level of child labour.
“Part of this new project will be institutional strengthening, so within the Ministries of Education and Labour there will be a project to help enforce and integrate measures that will be necessary at all levels to prevent child labour,” she outlined. This plan was endorsed by cabinet in 2007.
She informed JIS News that after the launch of the child labour project, the Ministry will be undertaking a public education campaign.
“Part of the new project is to improve advocacy and disseminate good practices.so we will have a public education campaign after the launch,” she said.
While she was unable to say how long the public education campaign will last, Mrs. Ximminies said that the Ministry is in the process of recruiting the national project manager.
“When that person comes on stream, we will begin to develop the details as to how the project will unfold.but it is going to be an islandwide campaign, and we are going into the areas where we feel we can make the greatest impact and ultimately eliminate the number of children who are engaged in any form of work”, she outlined.

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