The Role of Businesses to End Child Labour in Supply Chains

The Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) scheduled a seminar for FCEF members to discuss ways of eradicating child labour in supply chains and collaborate on
sustainable practical solutions in the context of COVID-19.

SUVA (FCEF / ILO Press Release) – A virtual seminar convened on Thursday, July 22, 2021.
The objective of this seminar are several folds, one being continue building businesses
knowledge and understanding on the structural drivers of child labour in Fiji, raise awareness
on the two fundamental ILO Conventions on child labour: Convention on the Minimum Age for
Admission to Employment,1973 (No. 138) and the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child
Labour, 1999 (No. 182). Further, the benefits of including child labour on the agenda at the
global regional, national level and industry level.

This seminar is aimed to build businesses practical capacity to prevent, identify and address
risks in line with the principles of responsible business conduct and due diligence. FCEF CEO Mr. Kameli Batiweti stresses that it is important that businesses know the legislative provisions that relate to child labour and what kinds of work children of different ages can carry out and under what conditions. He adds that FCEF will disseminate information to its members to raise awareness and encourage its members to share this information in their businesses and organizations.

FCEF will be providing awareness programs for the members who will be attending this
seminar.There are, approximately, 160 million children in child labour in the world today, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the world’s children. This is unacceptable. 72% of all child labour worldwide still takes place within the family.

“It is our responsibility, as adults and parents to ensure that NO Child under the age of 15 is
employed or is tasked to undertake work on behalf of an Adult(s), in Fiji,” said Mr. Batiweti.
He adds that the child’s mental and physical make up is not designed for work at that young
age, and we subject the child to mental anguish and physical torture when we, as adults
choose to ignore this basic principle.

Mr. Batiweti urges every business in Fiji, to continue to support the work towards eradicating all
forms and the worst forms of Child Labor. “Our Children, today, are the future Leaders of tomorrow, let us not interrupt this journey and their dreams,” stressed Mr. Batiweti.

Director, ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries Mr. Matin Karimli outlined ILO’s role, to see
that employers and businesses continue to participate in this global agenda of the elimination
of child labour and more importantly contribute to solutions to end child labour. He added the
seminar will also be contextualized from the angle of COVID-19 as child labour estimates will
continue to increase.

“The seminar provides the platform for business leaders from multiple sectors to contribute to
Sustainable development Goals Target 8.7. It is time to take action to reverse the trends as
this will result in these children getting back into the school system”, said Mr. Karimli.
FCEF has made a pledge this year to work towards improving responsible business conduct
with an aim to eliminate child labour in Fiji’s business practices.

As the Premier Employer Body of the Private Sector, FCEF will establish a committee to
support the provision of training and awareness programs for business communities in ending
child labour, modern slavery which encompasses forced labour and human trafficking in global
supply chains specifically targeting the FCEF members and the informal business sectors.
This committee will be tasked to oversee FCEF 2021 action pledge to eliminate Child Labour.
According to the new report released last month (June 10, 2021) by ILO and UNICEF there
has been a significant rise in the number of children between the ages of 5 to 11 years found
being victims of child labour.

The report states that 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour
by the end of 2022 because of COVID-19. It is further stated that the additional economic shocks and school closures caused by COVID19 mean that children already in child labour may be working longer hours or under worsening conditions, while many more may be forced into the worst forms of child labour due to job and income losses among vulnerable families.

The report states that the agriculture sector accounts for 70 per cent of children in child labour
(112 million) followed by 20 per cent in services (31.4 million) and 10 per cent in industry (16.5
million).

About FCEF: FCEF is a tripartite social partner and is recognised as being the most
representative organisation of employers in Fiji.
About the ILO: The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919. The ILO brings together
governments, employers and workers of 187 member States , to set labour standards, develop
policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.