More than 4,8m child labourers in SA

There are more than 4,8-million South African child labourers between the ages of five and 17, the labour department said on Monday.

The International Labour Organisation estimated that over a 100-million boys and girls aged between five and 14 worked as labourers on farms and plantations worldwide—and over 50-million of these were in sub-Saharan Africa.

This year’s focus, therefore, of the World Day Against Child Labour on June 13 was the elimination of child labour in agriculture.

“Not all children working in agriculture can be considered child labourers under the terms of ILO conventions ... if they perform tasks appropriate to a child’s age and that are a normal part of growing up in a rural environment,” said Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, currently attending the International Labour Conference in Geneva.

“Children must be given the opportunity to develop.
Anything harmful to their development is regarded as child labour. We are intensifying efforts to stamp out the scourge and we will take tough action against offenders.”

Child labour in the agricultural sector was one of the most dangerous forms of work for children, the labour department said.

“Children are often exposed to hazards and risks entailed in the mixing, handling and applying of toxic pesticides, the use of dangerous cutting tools, working in extreme temperatures and operating powerful farm vehicles and heavy machinery.”

A partnership formed to strengthen the worldwide movement against child labour will be launched at the conference on Wednesday. - Sapa

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