India Ratifies ILO Conventions To End Worst Forms Of Child Labour
India has ratified two critical International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions—182 and 138—on ending worst forms of child labour and on minimum age of employment after the Union cabinet gave its approval for ratification on March 31, 2017.
India’s decision for ratification of these Conventions was long overdue in providing justice to millions of working children and is a significant opportunity for the country to make renewed commitment for ending forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.
After the total prohibition of child labour through enacting a stronger legislation – Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act 2016, this is yet another significant step in protecting the country’s children from exploitation and abuse.
“It is a historic moment for India as we are going to take another giant step to affirm our commitment for a child labour free by ratifying the two core Convention of ILO Conventions 138 regarding admission of age to employment and Convention 182 regarding the worst forms of child labour,’’ Union Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya said this at the sidelines of an event held in Geneva at the ILO Conference. The Instruments of Ratification were handed over by India to ILO at the event.
The Minister said that the Government has been working in a concerted manner to eliminate child labour from the country by following a multipronged strategy by including both stringent legislative and project-based approach for complete prohibition on employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and prohibits employment of adolescents (14-18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes. The age of employment has been linked to the age of compulsory education under Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009.
A landmark step in the endeavour to have a child labour-free society was the enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Prevention) Amendment Act, 2016 that provides for complete prohibition on employment
Commenting on the ratification, Nobel prize winner Kailash Satyarthi said: “I recall the day when I conceived this idea to demand an international law on the abolishment of modern forms of slavery, sale and trafficking of children, forced or compulsory labour and the usage of children of children in conflict, for pornography and for procuring and doing other illicit activities such as drug trafficking.’’
The Government has also notified the amendment in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Central Rules after extensive consultation with the stakeholders. The Rules, for the first time, provide broad and specific framework for prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers.
To clarify on issues related with help in family and family enterprises and definition of family with respect to child, specific provisions have been incorporated in rules. Further, it also provides for safeguards of artists which have been permitted to work under the Act, in terms of hours of work and working conditions. The rules provide for specific provisions incorporating duties and responsibilities of enforcement agencies in order to ensure effective implementation and compliance of the provisions of the Act. In order to clarify the issues on Schedule of hazardous occupations and processes, the Schedule has been reviewed and the intent notification has been issued to include a comprehensive list of about 118 occupation and processes.
The Minister further informed that India was in the process of providing a digital platform ‘PENCIL’ which has components ensuring enforcement of the Act, mechanism for redressal of complaints, child tracking system and a monitoring mechanism. This platform would integrate all the State Governments with the Central Government for effective coordination and convergence of various measures being taken for compliance of the Act.
On this occasion, Director General, ILO said “this is an historic step. From today, Convention 182 will cover more than 99 percent of the world’s children and the coverage of Convention 138 will leap from approximately 60 percent to almost 80 percent. That strong alliance must now turn its attention to full implementation of these two Conventions, with no child left behind.”
The Minister mentioned that among the various measures taken recently to meet the objective of child labour free society, the prominent one was strengthening of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), which is a rehabilitative scheme, providing bridge education and vocational training to adolescents. This scheme has been strengthened recently in terms of improving its quality and extending its coverage to all the districts of the country. For effective implementation of the project, the NCLP guidelines have been reviewed.
The Civil Society groups and the prominent child labour activists have widely appreciated India’s recent initiative for complete eradication of child labour.
With ratification of these two core ILO conventions, India has ratified 6 out of 8 core ILO conventions, with the other 4 core ILO conventions relating to abolition of forced labour, equal remuneration and no discrimination between men and women in employment and occupation, thus reaffirming its commitment for promoting and realising fundamental principles and right at work.