Ferguson proposes strategies to combat child labour
Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Fenton Ferguson says tougher anti-child labour laws, increased opportunities for schooling, and public awareness form part of the answer for the elimination of child labour.
"If children can go to school and stay in school, their chances of getting proper jobs to care for their families increase, and if there are tough anti-child labour laws, workplaces will be safer, proper wages will be guaranteed, and children will not be taken advantage of," he said.
Ferguson was addressing the opening of a two-day training workshop being hosted by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), in collaboration with the International Labour Organ-isation (ILO), yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
The workshop is expected to expose participants, which comprise staff from the ministry, STATIN, and the Child Development Agency, to issues such as the resolution on child labour statistics by the International Conference of Labour Statisticians, the concepts and definitions related to the issue, and new survey questionnaire designs and sampling.
The participants are being prepared to carry out Jamaica's National Child Labour Survey (NCLS), which will be done over a 12-week period between April and June this year.
Ferguson said that an estimated 16,240 children in Jamaica are participating in child labour. The global figure is approximately 218 million.
He said that the results from the NCLS would improve the ministry's capacity to incorporate child labour data in its data collection Labour Market Information System. In addition, the data would strengthen the national policy and plan of action for child labour, which now forms a critical part of the soon-to-be enacted Occupational Safety and Health Bill.
"As public servants and policy implementers, we know that evidence and data are important to the overall process of planning and policy formulation," Ferguson said.
The survey is being done through the technical and financial support of the ILO. Jamaica is one of 10 countries to benefit from the US$7 million allocated to implement this project worldwide. Some US$285,000 has been allocated to Jamaica.