Child Labour: briefing

This premium content has been made freely available

Employment and Labour

13 August 2002
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


13 August 2002

Chairperson: Mr D Olifant (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Department of Labour Presentation
Memorandum of Understanding between RSA & International Labour Organisation on the Infocus Programme on Child Labour (email for document)
A Future without Child Labour: Executive Summary (email for document)
Survey of activities of young people in South Africa: Statistics SA

The Department of Labour outlined its strategy to achieve the effective abolition of child labour. Although there is an abundance of protective legislation and conventions, the Department's approach to child labour is that legislation alone cannot eradicate child labour. Hence a multi-sectoral collaborative strategy within structures such as the Child Labour Inter-sectoral Group (Clig) is crucial. Clig is a coalition of key government departments, organised labour, organised business and NGOs - formed by the Department under the auspices of the National Programme of Action for the Child in the Office of the President. Clig structures exist in all provinces working in partnership with Provincial Programmes of Action. Labour inspectors have attended workshops about a reviewed enforcement strategy regarding child labour. Another initiative by the Department is the 1999 Survey on the Activities of Young People (SAYP) and its follow-up work. The survey results have led to the development of a Programme of Action on Child Labour with a three-pronged approach: analyse the survey results, draft a policy discussion document, and workshop this document in all provinces.

In the discussion that followed, concern was raised that the most important part of the strategy, enforcement by inspectors, was severely under-capacitated.

Ms Nerine Kahn (Senior Executive Manager: Labour Relations) briefed the Committee on the future without child labour. With her were Mr Les Kettledas, Mr David Tshabalala, Ms Anna-Marie van Zyl, and two other department officials.

Ms Kahn defined child labour as "work by children under 18 which is exploitative, hazardous or otherwise inappropriate for their age, detrimental to their schooling, social, physical or moral development". She emphasised that work should not be limited to work for gain but should include chores or household activities if such work falls within this definition.

South Africa (SA) has an abundance of legislative framework to protect the rights of children. This includes, among others, the Constitution of SA (1996), the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (1997), the Sexual Offences Act (1957), the Child Care Act (1983), the Domestic Violence Act (1998), the Film and Publications Act (1996), and the Criminal Procedures Act (1997). SA has also ratified various Conventions in respect of children's issues such as the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999), the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, and the Abolition of Forced Labour (1957).

The Department of Labour (DoL)'s approach to child labour is that legislation alone cannot eradicate child labour. Therefore emphasis is on a multi-sectoral collaborative strategy with role players such as the Social Development, Health and Education Departments. Hence participation and involvement in structures such as the Child Labour Inter-sectoral Group (Clig) is crucial.

Clig is a coalition of key government departments, organised labour, organised business and NGOs. It was formed by the DoL under the auspices of the National Programme of Action for the Child (NPA) with the aim of fighting child labour in a collaborative and integrated manner. The objectives of Clig are to oversee and facilitate the process of eliminating the most hazardous forms of child labour, to create awareness campaigns about child labour, and to facilitate debate on policy issues. Clig also monitors progress on the elimination of child labour and it encourages the formation of provincial and sectoral structures. Clig structures exist in all provinces working in partnership with Provincial Programmes of Action (PPAs).

Labour inspectors are tasked with enforcing legislation in order to eradicate child labour. In 2002, the enforcement strategy was reviewed. It was then work-shopped with all inspectors nationally. It has also been included as a module course in the Technikon SA training. In addition, there was a pilot training for Clig structures in two provinces during July 2002.

Another initiative by the DoL is the Survey on the Activities of Young People (SAYP) conducted in 1999. The survey was commissioned by Statistics SA and funding was obtained from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United States Department of Labour. At the time of the Survey there were 13,4 million children in SA between the ages of 5 - 17. 36% of these children were found to be engaged in some form of economic activity. Situations where children are most at risk as a result of being involved in work activities were:
¨ Long periods fetching wood and water for use in the family home
¨ Doing domestic chores in their own homes
¨ Doing work at school unrelated to study such as gardening and cleaning.
¨ Work on commercial farms
¨ Work on subsistence farms
¨ Work in the family business with or without pay
¨ Paid domestic work
¨ Children involved in illegal activities such as prostitution and drug trade.

The Survey results necessitated the development of a Programme of Action on Child Labour (POA). POA has a three-pronged approach, namely, to analyse the survey results, to draft a policy discussion document with the technical assistance of the ILO in consultation with stakeholders, and to ensure that such policy document is work-shopped in all provinces.

In order to raise awareness on child labour issues, there is a website that deals with a wide variety of issues including child labour issues. The DoL also encourages participation in workshops, seminars and conferences on child labour, as well as to raise these issues in print and electronic media. In this regard the DoL has a budget available for 2002 for the development of a POA for SA and to ensure that there is support to all provincial Clig structures, as well as to conduct inspection blitzes.


ILO child labour website


In conclusion Ms Kahn said that the DoL takes the issue of child labour very seriously and is committed to the eradication of this phenomenon through education, awareness raising and enforcement.

Mr N Clelland-Stokes (DP) commented that the enforcement section is the most important section of the presentation. He asked how labour inspectors could perform their work when there is a 63% skill shortage for labour inspectors

The Chairperson commented that there is a perception that labour inspectors are not doing their jobs. He asked what it is that the DoL is doing to ensure the independence of Inspectors.

Ms Kahn replied that the Inspectors have been recruited last year, educated and given all the skills they need. She said that there is a continual training of Inspectors, but that this is a long-term process that cannot be achieved only in six months.

Ms van Zyl added that the DoL is doing blitz inspections in which case they arrive at the work premises without notice and that this is part of their broader enforcement strategy. Once blitz inspections are done, it is important for the media to play its role by reporting the results of the inspections.

Mr Mshudulu (ANC) asked the DoL to ensure that the public knows all the above structures. He was concerned that child labour issues seem to be discussed only at the DoL, and that people on the ground are not made aware of such issues. He expressed his disappointment that other government departments and committees have not been invited, and that this would have the effect of saving resources.

Mr L Kettledas replied that the media has a social obligation to bring forward child labour issues and that in such cases the DoL takes the matter further. He said that if there is co-operation between people and institutions, this would maximise and make enforcement effective. The DoL and the Inspectors cannot do it alone. He concluded by saying that there need to be a multi-faceted holistic approach through various organisations.

A Committee member asked if the SAYP Survey Report is available to the public and whether the budget for 2002 is sufficient.

Ms van Zyl answered that the report is available to the public and that she will make it available to the Committee.

Ms Kahn added that the DoL also received funding from the ILO, though she could not remember the amount. She said, however, that they do have a sufficient budget.

Mr Clelland-Stokes felt that the question he had posed earlier had not been answered adequately. He commented that if there is 63% skills shortage, it means that the DoL is working at 37% capacity. He wanted to know what is being done to address this, and whether this will be solved by the end of this year.

Mr L Kettledas replied that there is an ongoing filling of posts and that this is being done at provincial level. He said that he did not have details of how many posts were filled but that he encourages provinces to fill these posts.

Another Department official then commented that she is aware that the definition of child labour may clash with culture. In traditional cultures, for example, children grow up doing certain jobs as part of being raised and being given responsibility. She said, however, that once the job is emotionally or physically detrimental to the child, this would be classified as child labour. She added further that social ills such as poverty and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the poor are contributing factors to child labour.

The Chairperson asked whether the DoL would facilitate a further update in the future to the Committee about POA after a report has been submitted to the Minister of Labour.

Mr Kettledas said that they would and added that the DoL will inform the Committee as to how provincial Clig structures are composed so that the Committee can work together with such structures.

The Chairperson thanked all those who had participated and encouraged all to attend a briefing on occupational health and safety on 20 August.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: