WITU joins the fight against child labor

POSTED: 11/24/14 8:00 PM

St. Maarten – A petition against child labor currently being circulated has been signed by local teachers union Witu and union president Claire Elshot explained that while this is not a major issue locally, there are neighboring islands where it is an issue.

Education International has joined 2014 nobel prize winner Kailish Satyarthi in efforts to stop child labor and has encouraged its affiliates to sign the globally circulated petition which will be sent to United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon once the required signatures have been collected. The International Labor Organization have already made significant strive in the fight against child labor, but according to Elshot, with “millions of kids” still forced into child labor, this petition “is more forceful.”

Unions and grassroots groups are increasingly recognizing direct connections between worker rights and the fight against child labor. Recognizing child labor as a violation of children’s and workers’ rights, trade unions are joining with families and community organizations to combat child labor, to move children out of work and into school, and to support core labor standards. Historically and in today’s global economy strong unions are viewed as an important protection against child labor

Many workers and unions internationally are supporting efforts to end child labor by forging alliances with unions in other countries. These alliances work to achieve enforceable global labor standards, such as ILO Convention 182, and hold transnational companies accountable for labor practices.

According to information from Education International, “of the estimated 21 million slaves in the world today, an astonishing 26 per cent, or more than one in every four, is a child under the age of 18, with some being as young as five. Forced to work for up to 18 hours a day, these children are sold for less than the price of cattle. They are deprived of their right to education and other human rights. This must stop.

“To catalyse action against child slavery, EI has joined other unions and civil society organizations, including Nobel Peace Prize 2014 winner Kailash Satyarthi’s Global March against Child Labor. The joint advocacy will be coordinated through the End Child Slavery Week running from 20-26 November 2014.”

The petition aims to put child slavery on the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda for the next 15 years. “By signing your name, you will publically declare that you are taking responsibility for the world’s children who suffer beyond imagination at the hands of slave masters.”  Persons interested in seeing the entire petition or in getting more information on child slavery, may visit http://www.endchildslaveryweek.org

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