By Bill W. Cooper
The Ministry of Labor (MoL) in collaboration with Winrock International, Lawyers without Boarders (LWOB) and the Legislative Reform Committee (LRC) has developed a hazardous work list and light work list for children under 18 years in Liberia.
With funding from the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), the document is intended to protect and specify further types of work that may be prohibited to children as well as identify hazardous processes, temperatures, noise levels and or vibrations that are damaging to their health.
The Act which is in line with Chapter 21.4b of the Decent Work Act (DWA) among other things states, “The Minister of Labor within the first 12 months of this Act coming into force; makes regulations.”
Making the disclosure yesterday during the Commemoration of World Day Against Child Labor at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, Labor Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson stated that the document was development through consultative workshops led by LWOB under the guidance of the Ministry of Labor and stakeholders.
Notably, this year’s World Day Against Child Labor was celebrated under the global theme “Universal Social Protection to End Child Labor” while the national theme was: “Early Education, Not Early Empowerment.”
According to Minister Gibson, the document was also reviewed and validated through the tripartite constituents and other stakeholders and endorsed by him (Minister Gibson) thus bringing it into full action across Liberia.
He named sugar mailing, rubber tapping, use of grinding machines, cleaning and harvesting using sharp objects, palm cutting, bush cleaning, feeding of animals, as well as the taking of heavy loads, laying of bricks, fishing, mixing of chemicals, mining and working in contaminated areas are works that children under the age of 18 should not do.
The country’s Labor Minister has at the same warned parents and guardians to ensure that they abide by the new regulations in order to avoid being prosecuted in line with the Labor Law of Liberia for the violations of his/her child rights.
“We will share this information with the Ministry of Internal Affairs to also hold a town hall meeting with our traditional leaders aimed at informing them because anyone found in the act of child labor will be dealt with accordingly. We are done with talking and dialogue and it is time to act,” Minister Gibson averred.
Serving earlier as the guest speaker, Rivercess County District 1 Representative, Rosana G.D.H. Schaack called on the citizenry to join the government in protecting children against all forms of child labor across the country.
She said that there are many children that have been put to work that are somehow dangerous for them and as such; it is incumbent upon them as government and community members to be providing the social protection for all Liberian children irrespective of their creed and tribe.
She stressed, “Because sometimes these children run away from these homes and are at risk of being harmed by other people out there. And they have to go to school at an early age, so that they can or will develop mentally and physically.”
Rep. Schaack asked, “How many of you have seen children in your community doing adult work? We need you to help us protect these children. Sometimes getting them reunified with their parents also has to take place because you are not too young to help another child to be protected.”
She added, “Child labor is connected to Human Trafficking and also with Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. It also takes all of us working together to provide social protection for each and every child in Liberia, thereby leaving no one behind.”
Labor Ministry Warn Against Child Labor
…Releases Hazardous Work List
By Bill W. Cooper