Child labor is a negative global phenomenon, a hazardous situation that affects all continents, with less developed countries in the lead, but with no country being excluded.
It is no coincidence that out of the 218 million children aged 5-17 who work globally, 72.1 million come from Africa and 62.1 million from Asia, followed by the United States with 10.7 million and Arab states with 1.2 million, while in Europe and Central Asia more than 5.5 million children are victims of child labor.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global crisis caused by quarantine imposed on all countries of the world, even more children were forced to child labor, being prey to the appetite of the big businesses, who use child labor to reduce the losses of their profits.
However, the inclusion of children in the workforce is not a phenomenon of recent years, not even of the current century. It is a problem that has arisen since the mid-19th century, when the industrial revolution needed even cheaper workforce. The more some multinationals that rule the whole world accumulate capital, the more urgent the need for cheap workforce becomes.
So today, at the beginning of the 21st century, with all the advance of technology and science that would allow all the children of the world to enjoy their childhood, go to school and have full health care, we are seeing the intensification of child labor and multiplication of children who fall victims of occupational accidents.
The elimination of this outrageous phenomenon cannot be left to the individual actions of some suspicious NGOs or to the proclamation of a World Day against Child Labor. An international observatory which will simply record the phenomenon and the statistics is not enough either. There must be coordinated action, decisive and militant movement, trade unions that will put pressure on the governments of their countries until they stop having minor children in the factories, in the mines, in the large rural areas of the multinationals, that is, until child slavery stops.
The World Federation of Trade Unions, with more than 100 million members from 130 countries, which this year celebrates 75 years of life and action, has a long-standing and permanent demand for the abolition of child labor. However, the class-oriented movement represented worldwide by the WFTU has no illusions that child labor can be completely eliminated without the elimination of the system that produces it: capitalism.
We are fighting for a system without exploitation of man by man, where children will live as children and not as young slaves. We urgently demand:
– Abolition of child labor by law in all countries of the world, with strict fines and closure of the company where a violation is found.
-Funding of Public Education so that all children have free access to the educational system.
-Universal and Free Health Care for all children in all countries of the world.
-Utilization of children’s free time with activities which develop their skills and abilities.
All of the above demands, which are permanent for the WFTU, are not just a wish-list, but a framework of action that its trade unions and friends have consistently served all the previous years and continue until the final overthrow of this inhumane and rotten system that causes all hardships of the working class and the popular strata.