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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Headway made in dealing with child labour

The Department of Labour says interventions taken to improve the social security and welfare of children have resulted in government being able to reduce the bane of child labour.

 “There has been significant expansion of measures to relieve household poverty, which is the main driver of child labour. Legislation to address child labour has been strengthened substantially,” the department said on Wednesday ahead of the National Day against Child Labour.

The department will on 22 August host the fourth National Day against Child Labour to put the spotlight on child labour. The day will be commemorated at Robert Gunda Stadium in Upington, Northern Cape, under the theme “Let me be a child”.

The theme is derived from children’s right to education, playing and doing the things children must do to enhance their mental, physical and emotional well-being. South Africa has developed a road-map towards the prevention, reduction and eventual elimination of child labour called the Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA).

The CLPA was first adopted in 2003 after extensive consultation within government and a wide range of organisations outside government. The programme set out specific actions to be taken and assigned responsibility for these actions.

The key elements of the CLPA are: Targeting the implementation of government and other stakeholders’ programmes and policies on poverty, employment, labour and social matters more effectively in areas where the work children do has serious negative effects on them;

Promoting new legislative measures against Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL);

Strengthening of national capacity to enforce legislative measures; and

Increasing public awareness and social mobilisation against WFCL.

Restrictions on employment of children

 According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a majority of countries have adopted legislation to prohibit or place severe restrictions on the employment and work of children.However, in spite of these efforts, child labour continues to exist on a massive scale, sometimes in appalling conditions, particularly in the developing world.

The organisation cautions that if progress has been slow or apparently non-existent, this is because child labour is an immensely complex issue.

In May 2010, South Africa became signatory to the ILO Roadmap towards the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2016. The convention seeks to focus the international spotlight on the urgency of action to eliminate all child labour.


The Children’s Act, as amended in 2007, deals explicitly with child trafficking, children used by adults to commit crime and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It also reinforces the provisions on forced labour in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.


The event will be opened by Acting Director-General, Sam Morotoba, who will share the stage with the department’s Acting Chief Director: Provincial Operations in the Northern Cape, Marsha Bronkhorst, and Acting Deputy Director-General of Labour Policy and Industrial Relations, Thembinkosi Mkalipi.

The occasion will also be attended by representatives of the ILO, government departments, organised business and labour as well as children. –


Headway made in dealing with child labour