The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), under the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), has since 2013 withdrawn over 3,500 children from child labour and distributed a range of stationery, over 20,000 to schools in 30 communities within the Kwaebibirem, Kpando-Torkor and Hemang districts in the Eastern, Volta and Ashanti regions respectively.
It has also trained and supported teachers with teaching aids and materials, while empowering its Anti-Child Labour clubs through education on policies and legislations on child labour locally, regionally and internationally as agents of change.
These clubs are also educated on sexual and reproductive health rights, career guidance and counselling amongst others.
The General Secretary of GAWU, Mr Edward Kareweh on the union’s contribution towards eliminating child labour, who disclosed this in an interview said the union had, over the years, worked towards ensuring that children remain children, while adu
He indicated that as a workers’ representative organisation that seeks not just the welfare of its members but a sustainable growth against all forms of abuses against humanity, the union has for many years contributed towards the eradication, elimination and creation of child labour free zones in Ghana.
“Women in the communities that we work have been economically empowered through the provision of alternative livelihoods under the Non-Farm or fishing Economic Activity (NFEA), put in cooperatives and encouraged to save their incomes to be able to support their children’s education,” he stated.
GAWU has anti-child labour clauses in the Collective Agreements signed with all its member-plantations to pledge their support.
“The Union has a speed boat, a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, professionally trained divers and well-trained rescue team on the Volta lake in Kpando-Torkor all in our effort to eliminate child labour,” said.
Mr Kareweh added that GAWU will continue to implement the Child Labour Strategic Document and Occupational Safety and Health Manual for farmers against Child Labour, developed in collaboration with the Ghana Cocoa Board and the International Labour Organisation(ILO) in 2013.
Overview of child labour
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) global records, 2017, states that in the world’s poorest countries, around one in four children (ages 5 to 17) are engaged in child labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development.
Global estimates of child labour: Results and trends, 2012-2016 by the ILO show that; a total of 152 million children, 64 million girls and 88 million boys are in child labour globally, accounting for almost one in ten of all children worldwide.
Nearly half of all those in child labour, 73 million children are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.
The agricultural sector accounts for the largest share of child labour, 71 per cent and 108 million children. Child labour in agriculture relates primarily to subsistence and commercial farming and livestock herding.
A recent Ghana Labour Standards Survey (GLSS-6) showed that 21.8 per cent, representing 1.9 million children aged between five and 17 years out of the over eight million nationwide population, are engaged in child labour.
The difficulty of tasks and harsh working conditions create several problems such as premature ageing, malnutrition, depression, drug dependency etc. for the children.
One hundred million campaign
The campaign, is a global one that seeks to withdraw 100 million child labourers out of the global estimate of 168 million child labourers, of which 59 million majority are in Africa.
The 2014 Nobel Prize Laureate and founder of Global March against Child Labour (GMACL), Kailash Satyarthi, who launched the campaign in Accra recently said that the campaign was not going to stop until every child in Africa, and other parts of the world, get access to good quality education. — GB