EFP launches National Child Labor Business Platform

“A weak economy is the epicenter of all social, economic, security etc issues. Child Labor is one vivid example that must be addressed through an integrated approach rather than by scattered methods. It is therefore of great importance that Employers Federation of Pakistan is going to take this integrated initiative to set up the National Child Labor Business Platform and that the announcement has been made in Peshawar. Moreover, the rich developed countries must increase their contributions to UNICEF, ILO, etc so that the citizens of poor and least developed countries can benefit from sustainable projects and programs. These developed countries can do real service if they invest more in poor nations so that unemployment decreases, there is better quality of life and, more importantly, child labor can be eliminated if the adults are working.” This was stated by Justice (R) Dost Muhammad Khan, Chief Minister of KPK, who alongwith all Members of KPK Cabinet, was the Chief Guest at the “World Day Against Child Labor” event in Peshawar organized by Employers Federation of Pakistan, in association with ILO and with support of European Union.
The Chief Minister further added that the main contribution towards Child Labor is poverty that compels parents to send their children to work, sometimes in an abject environment. He said that Child Labor is prevalent in restaurants, transport, shopping centers, garages, brick kilns, etc and is widespread in agriculture sector too. He proposed the formation of a Child Labor Commission, initially in KPK, to conduct a Child Labor Survey and involve NADRA to obtain new and fresh data. He also suggested that relevant law must be amended to make it mandatory for registration of births and the process of registration must be strictly mandated and that vigilance is required to ensure that data is properly updated.Earlier, in his Welcome Address, Majyd Aziz, President of Employers Federation of Pakistan, announced the launch of two very special initiatives on Child Labor. The first initiative is the 10 Children’s Rights and Business Principles of UN Human Rights Commission and the second is the establishment of National Child Labor Business Platform. He said that Pakistan is the first country among all ILO member states to launch such a platform and the credit deservedly goes to Employers Federation of Pakistan for this pioneering effort.

While giving details, Majyd Aziz said that the objectives of this Platform are to foster and share among employers, workers, government, and civil society their experiences in addressing Child Labor, particularly in industrial sector and supply chain. It will also identify obstacles to business in implementing the ILO and UN Global Compact Child Labor Principles and also pinpoint key dilemmas faced by enterprises and will provide doable and practical ways of overcoming Child Labor issues. More importantly, it will catalyze corporative approaches to address Child Labor in selected industrial sectors and communities.

Ms Ingrid Christensen, ILO Country Director in Pakistan, in her speech called for the adoption of ILO Decent Work Agenda and said that a Social Dialogue is very much needed to implement the fundamental right to work. She said that safety, health, and employment are top priorities and must be focused by all stakeholders. She disclosed that globally over 500 million children work including 15 to 17 million in Pakistan. She lauded the contributions of EFP in awareness raising and motivating enterprises to refrain from employing children, even in their supply chain. She said that ILO Convention 182 regarding Worst Forms of Child Labor has been the most ratified Convention but there is still huge number of Child Labor everywhere. She also congratulated the KPK government for approving the Child Labor Policy and for initiating a Child Labor Survey across the Province.

Haji Muhammad Javed, Director EFP and Chief of EFP-KPK Chapter, said that EFP is fully on board with KPK government in tackling all issues related to labor and management, and the holding of such a big event is due to the efforts of the EFP team based in Peshawar. He said that Skill Development Council, which is under the umbrella of EFP, has been providing skills and vocational training to thousands of youth across the province. He announced that soon the KPK Chapter would undertake an exercise to increase EFP membership through contacts with private enterprises in other cities of KPK.

KPK Minister Prof Dr Daud Khan, KPK Labor Secretary Muhammad Nizamuddin, KPK Director Labor Irfan Khan, Secretary General EFP Fasihul Karim Siddiqi, US Academician Prof Fida Khan, ILO Child Labor Specialist Abid Niaz Khan, and Member Supreme Court Bar Council Habib Qureshi also spoke on the various aspects of Child Labor.