Child labour is a union issue Trade unions were formed to give workers the collective strength to fight injustice and resist exploitation. They can help children who have been forced into child labour in many ways and at the same time help their members. For example, poverty is undoubtedly a contributory cause of child labour. But child labour itself is a cause of poverty. If children are forced to do the work of adults at lower wages, then that is a threat to the wages and working conditions of adults. Unions can help alleviate poverty in their countries, and help their members, by protecting children from child labour and demanding that the children have access to decent education. By eliminating child labour unions can increase their bargaining power in society. Child labour also contributes to the unemployment of adults. If children who have been forced into child labour can be removed from the situation and rehabilitated, the job may be filled by an adult. Also, there are many instances where the parent is unemployed and the child is working. This is bad for both the child and the adult and the situation should be reversed. Dealing with the problem of child labour is also an entry point for unions into the unorganized sector. It is extremely difficult for unions to organize in the informal sector, but it is precisely where child labour most often occurs. By confronting the problem of child labour unions could learn how to better operate in the informal sector and therefore build their numbers in a crucial economic area. Union policies and action plans It is universally recognized and agreed that child labour must stop. But it will never be eliminated without the involvement of trade ____________________________________________________________ Workers' Activities Programme (ACTRAV) ILO International Training Centre ( 8 )
unions. Here are some policies and actions unions could undertake: Fact-finding and investigation Finding out the facts about child labour and putting names and faces to the problem are necessary tools to build a mobilization programme, decide on priorities, develop strategies and find solutions to specific cases. Unions need to investigate and ensure documentation of concrete cases of child labour so they can take effective action. Awareness-raising, mobilization and campaigning Awareness-raising and mobilization are important tools for the prevention and elimination of child labour. Many unions when first getting involved in the issue have started by making their own members more aware of the problem. Child labour must become more unacceptable to public opinion at all levels in society. Publicity material is available from international trade union confederations, the global union federations and the ILO. National centres may also have some material. Refer to the list of resources at the end of this document.
- Summer '17