HAZARDOUS WORKS : No let-up in hiring children

The number of children engaged in hazardous forms of labour, as percentage of total child labour, increased by 35 per cent in one decade, while the National Plan of Action to eliminate child labour sits on paper without being allocated a budget.

Child labour as percentage of total working children also increased by seven per cent during the same time, shows the latest Child Labour Survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, when government is yet to allocate a single penny of the Tk 712 crore required to implement the National Plan of Action.

Child rights activists said many children were engaged in cattle slaughter, hired by chemical, tobacco, engineering and welding factories, loading and unloading at ports, as helpers of bus and truck drivers, and breaking bricks and stones. In 2013, the government identified 38 forms of work as hazardous to children.

State Minister of labour and employment Mujibul Haque said the government was committed and serious about eliminating child labour from society. When asked about the budget for implementation of the National 
Plan of Action, the minister referred joint secretary Khondakar Mostan Hossain, who looks after child labour, for details.

Mostan said the government will definitely fail the deadline to eliminate child labour from Bangladesh by 2016, and that they were thinking of extending the deadline.

We are working to secure the Tk 712 crore for implementing the National Plan of Action, he said.

The child labour survey paints a grim picture of the state of child labour and hazardous child labour, at a time when the country is set to observe National Children Day on Thursday.

The government’s goal of abolishing the worst forms of child labour from Bangladesh by 2016 is proving elusive as around 1.2 million children still sweat in hazardous jobs.

The National Child Labour Elimination Policy adopted by the government in 2010 set a goal of bringing meaningful change in the lives of children by withdrawing them from all forms of work, particularly hazardous work, by 2015.

In 2013, the government took a National Plan of Action, setting a goal of abolishing child labour from Bangladesh by 2016. The plan states that about Tk 712 crore will be necessary to implement the NPA. Two top officials of labour and employment ministry confirmed to New Age that not a single penny was allocated separately so far for the cause.

‘It is alarming. Child labour and hazardous child labour is increasing proportionately,’ said national project coordinator of ILO Munira Sultana. She said that if the government takes initiative to raise the fund, many donor agencies will come forward to provide money.

Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum director Abdus Shahid Mahmood said, according to the NPA, National Child Labour Welfare Council was formed in February 2014 and was supposed to meet once every six months. So far only one meeting was held in May 2015.

NPA has provisions to form Divisional Child Labour Welfare Council, but so far such committees have only been set up in Chittagong and Khulna divisions. No District Child Rights Monitoring Forum has been formed so far.

Child Labour Survey 2002-03 said there were about 7.4 million economically active children of which 3.2 million, or 42 per cent, were child labour and the latest Child Labour Survey 2013, which came out in January, said there were 3.4 million economically active children and of them 1.7 million or 49.30 per cent were child labour.

The government claims to have reduced hazardous forms of child labour but statistics tell a different story. According to the 2003 CLS, 1.2.millon, or 40 per cent of the total child labour, were engaged in hazardous forms of labour while the latest CLS shows that 1.2 million, or 75 per cent of the child labour, is engaged in hazardous forms of child labour.

The government will miss the deadline because of lack of inter-ministerial coordination and failure to monitoring the factories to detect the prevalence of child labour, said UNICEF’s child protection specialist Shabnaaz Zaherin.

source : the new age

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