Global March Against Child Labour: From Exploitation to Education
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Global March Against Child Labour - From Exploitation to Education
Global March welcomes Global Union statement to G8/G20 Summits
The G8 Summit, for representatives of the most powerful economies in the world, will be held in Ontario, Canada, from 25-26 June 2010, and will be immediately followed by the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, from 26-27 June 2010 where the Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will bring together industrialised and developing economies to discuss key issues affecting the global economy. Both forums will focus on the theme “Recovery and New Beginnings” which is crucial for the recovery of national, regional and global economies.

In advance of these vital discussions of the major economies of the world, the global trade union organisations have called on the Heads of State and financial leaders attending the meetings in Canada to learn the lessons of the immediate past and the factors which contributed to the global economic crisis. Union leaders are urging governments to focus their attention and efforts on jobs and decent work to sustain economic recovery. This call has come in the form of a detailed statement which calls for a new pattern in economic thinking and “a new model of growth that is fairer, more environmentally sustainable and balanced between regions.”

Global March welcomes the Global Union statement which can be downloaded as follows:

  1. For English, click here.
  2. For French, click here.
  3. For Spanish, click here.

The statement asks governments for the development of new sources of finance, including a financial transactions tax, and to “step up work on combating tax evasion and tax havens.” As well as urging political leaders to learn the lessons of the past, the union organisations also demand that political leaders ensure that “the International Monetary Fund stops promoting austere adjustment policies, together with conditions on loans that require the deregulation of labour markets and the weakening of worker protection.”

Within the overall message, jobs and growth, education and skills and social protection are identified as key elements to sustain overall economic recovery. The document calls on G8 leaders, in particular, to mandate a high-level committee to draw up recommendations to achieve Education for All, develop relevant vocational education and training, hold a G20 key ministerial meeting on this topic in 2011 and launch a Global Partnership for Teacher Education “to mobilise financial and human resources in support of national initiatives to train qualified teachers and achieve quality education for all.”

It also calls on G8 leaders to “meet aid commitments and support the MDGs”, highlighting the fact that 72 million children of primary school age do not go to school and that 126 million children are involved in hazardous work. This section of the statement is crucial in the light of the UN High-Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs to be held in New York in September 2010 at which action plans will be agreed on “accelerating progress” towards achieving the MDGs by 2015. Global March members will recall the reference to “accelerating progress” in terms of the recent ILO Global Report on Child Labour and Roadmap 2016 which emerged from the Global Conference on Child Labour in The Hague in May 2010. The latest aid figures show that governments are still failing to honour past commitments.

The statement is further reinforced by the conclusions of the International Labour Conference on 18 June 2010 in Geneva which issued a strong call for placing employment and social protection at the centre of recovery policies. “We must get the right balance of policies to secure strong, sustainable and balanced growth,” said conference delegates. In a message to the closing plenary of the conference, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia explained that: “Here at the ILO, we have reinforced this concept: the only real recovery is a recovery without social deficit”.

Strong and sustained economic growth in the form of decent work underpins efforts to tackle child labour and particularly to reinforce prevention. In welcoming the statements by the Global Unions and the conclusions of the International Labour Conference, Global March Chair Kailash Satyarthi urged the G8 and G20 leaders to remain attentive to the needs and expectations of their countries’ children and to maintain a long-term perspective in efforts to build economic recovery:

“Millions of children were suffering even before the economic crisis,” he said. “The unprecedented wealth that was generated by the economic boom of recent years did not have a positive impact on the lives of the socially marginalised, the excluded, the poor and the vulnerable. Children were exploited at a time when businesses, banks and governments were overflowing with wealth and excesses that are now described as “obscene”. The world had the means at that time to make a difference to the lives of children exploited in all kinds of ways.”

“Unfortunately, that exploitation has now found a new and fertile environment in which it can grow and flourish as some western economies struggle for their survival in some cases. The latest ILO figures indicating further reductions in the numbers of child labourers are based on statistics from before the economic crash. The likelihood is that the numbers will be growing, if not now, then soon. We must not allow the gains that have been made to slip away from us and that is why we in the Global March urge the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries to invest on elimination of child labour and quality education to mitigate the impact of present crisis.  We strongly support the Global Union statement and the focus on quality jobs, decent work and economic growth.”

“The decent jobs created in the coming years of recovery will help our children in the future. Their way out of poverty is through education, understanding and access to good quality public services and decent work. This statement provides us with an economic blueprint to sustained recovery which includes good governance principles underpinning oversight of a new global economy – one which, as Mr Somavia points out, must not allow any social deficits.”
Global March Against Child Labour - From Exploitation to Education

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