Laos ministry seeks to reduce number of child workers

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Poverty and lack of interest in schooling have been cited as the main reasons why some children work in small businesses in their local communities, and also in some factories.

In Laos, it is estimated that more than 260,000 children aged 15-17 are working in small businesses and factories with the aim of supplementing their families’ income.

Director General of the Department of Labour Administration, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Phongxaysack Intharat, addressed the issue on Tuesday (Feb 23) at a meeting titled “Strengthened Implementation of the National Plan of Action to Eliminate Child Labour and Promote Decent Work conditions for Youth in Laos”.

The plan of action has been implemented to help achieve Target 8.7 of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

He said more than half or about 70% of child workers are no longer in school. Of the number who work, 260,000 are considered to be labourers because of the time they devote to working each day.

These children typically live in vulnerable conditions, are impoverished, and may have lost one or more of their parents.

The main reasons they work are the need to ease their family’s workload, need to generate supplementary income for their family, and a lack of interest in education, he said.

He noted “Child labourers sometimes engage in dangerous work, such as carrying heavy items, and also earn very little money”.

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Padeumphone Sonthany, said the government has initiated a child protection system mapping, assessment, and planning exercise to develop a vision and action plan to strengthen child protection. It has also drawn up the Strategy for the Social Welfare Workforce Development.

In collaboration with development partners and the private sector, the government is working to support the care, recovery, and reintegration of child victims and also provides recommendations to address those issues, including improving child protection.

The meeting discussed efforts under the Alliance 8.7 initiative to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal No. 8 and the elimination of child labour in all its forms by 2025.

Government officials together with inspection officials from the other Asean member states and social representatives discussed action to accelerate national-level strategies to eliminate child labour.

Meeting participants reaffirmed the urgency for combating child labour and the important role that labour inspectorates play in this effort.

Laos and other Asean member states agreed on a set of recommendations, including strengthening the institutional and human capacity of the labour inspection system to more effectively detect and address cases of child labour. -- Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

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Laos , child , labour


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